WEBSTER CITY - The goals have come in bunches: 7, 5, 6, 6, 9, 6, 6.
And it's true, you can't win soccer matches without pounding the ball into the back of the net. But 12th-ranked Webster City's run of 14 consecutive victories and entrance into the Class 2A state tournament for the first time has been about more than its frenzy of offensive celebrations.
The defense - comprised of defensive backs Kirk Greenley, Brody Foster, Nick Olmstead and Aaron Hoffman - has been equally good, which is to say it has been beyond stingy: 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1. No opponent has put more than one goal in against Webster City since April 14, and only two foes have accomplished the feat all season.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City possesses one of the premier back lines in the Class 2A boys’ state soccer tournament field, as the Lynx have given up just 13 goals this season, which is tied for second in the class. Providing that last line of defense include goalkeeper Austin Koons (diving) and defensive backs (left to right) Kirk Greenley, Brody Foster, Nick Olmstead and Aaron Hoffman.
It's no coincidence that those two matches are the only blips on the Lynx otherwise flawless resume.
"Oh man, my defense is amazing," WCHS junior goalkeeper Austin Koons said, deflecting some of the deserved credit that travels in his direction for the group's stellar run. "They keep the line and they get to every ball in the air. I really couldn't ask for more."
Fourth-seeded WCHS (18-2-1) will need to be up to snuff today when it steps on the big stage against No. 8-ranked and fifth-seeded ADM Adel (16-4) - a returning state qualifier - in a 2A quarterfinal-round match at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines. The ball will be put into play at 2:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to Friday's semifinals against either top-seed Dubuque Wahlert (11-6-1) or eighth-seeded Clear Creek-Amana (13-4).
Today's State Game
Webster City vs. ADM
What: Class 2A state tournament quarterfinal match
Where: Cownie Soccer Park, Des Moines
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Records: Webster City 18-2-1; ADM 16-4.
The consolation final and championship matches will take place Saturday afternoon.
ADM's prolific offense features senior forward Jonah Waldron, who is bound for Drake University in the fall. Waldron is second in the class in goals scored with 32, and he's assisted on five others. Only five teams have been able to keep him off the scoreboard this spring.
Sophomore Jacob Hutzell is a solid second option for the Tigers; he's punched 11 shots into the goal this season.
"(ADM) is a pretty solid team, but it's the state tournament and everybody is solid," WCHS head coach Craig Signorin said.
Containing Waldron will be priority No. 1 for the Lynx, who know a thing or two about shutting down all-state scorers. They kept Hudson senior Hunter Zempel - the leading scorer in 2A with 44 goals - at bay in a 3-1 win over the third-ranked Pirates during the substate semifinal round.
"We're pretty pumped because no one really knows about us," Koons said. "I think we'll surprise some people when we get down there."
Koons has surrendered just 10 goals to go along with 70 saves this season, and his save percentage of .875 ranks third among the eight keepers in the 2A field.
But Koons is the first to admit that it starts with the four guys in front of him. Running by the quartet is one thing, but getting the ball in position to take a shot at Koons is another.
"Some games it does surprise me when teams get shots off because those guys are that good," Koons said.
WCHS has allowed only 13 goals in 21 matches, trailing only Clear Creek-Amana - the Clippers have given up 12 goals, but in four fewer matches - in defensive prowess. The Lynx own 10 shutouts, including eight in their 14-match unbeaten streak over the past month.
But Signorin knows today's confrontation will be a new and unique beast. Shackling teams during the regular season on a familiar field is one thing; doing it when the entire state is watching is quite another.
"We're pretty dangerous compared to a lot of teams, but we'll see what happens when the lights are on," he said. "Here they are at the state tournament when everyone is watching, and it's a great honor to get to that state tournament, but we're not satisfied. We want to go there and make a statement because we feel like we're still not getting the respect that is due. So we're going to go try to get that respect."
Shut out Waldron and ADM, and that respect is sure to follow.