Caleb Crouthamel's love affair with the game of soccer began when he was just 4 years old, and he's been breaking defenders' ankles ever since.
Maybe it's the fact that he started so young. Or maybe it's because he's just better than almost every other player that can line up across from him on the pitch. Whatever it is, the ball and the net have always called him.
And he's answered.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City senior forward Caleb Crouthamel has scored 26 goals this season and 55 in his career, a school record.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Veterans (left to right) Jonny Davis, Garrett Gourley, Christian Lemus and Caleb Crouthamel send shots flying into the net during practice on Tuesday. They’ve combined to score 56 goals this season to lead Webster City to an 18-2-1 record and its first-ever appearance in the Class 2A state tournament.
"Soccer has always been my favorite sport," Crouthamel, a Webster City senior, said. "I've played a long time."
Crouthamel is one of the 12th-ranked Lynx unquestioned leaders as they get set to open up Class 2A state tournament play today against No. 8 ADM Adel at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines. Match time is 2:30 p.m.
He's not the loudest or brashest player; some may even call him unassuming when he's standing idle. But when he gets the ball on his feet and sprints into the open field, his talent is evident.
"His speed and his ball control make him a little bit above the rest," Jonny Davis, a classmate and fellow forward for WCHS, said. "It seems like he can blow by anybody he wants."
That speed and agility have translated into a school-record 55 career goals - 26 coming this season, the fifth-best 2A individual total - as he's propelled the Lynx to 14 consecutive victories and an overall record of 18-2-1. A great state tournament could push him over 30 goals in just his senior campaign, a feat matched by only one other WCHS player - Kyle Hibbing, a 2009 graduate - over a career.
Over the last nine matches, Crouthamel has amassed four hat tricks, including a career-best four goals in a 9-0 blowout of Clear Lake. He scored three goals, half of the team's total, in Saturday's 6-1 substate final win over Iowa Falls-Alden.
And he's ready for more.
"We're excited (for state)," Crouthamel said. "We want to go out and show people what we can do."
Davis, who is 16th in 2A with 16 goals, says the Lynx need their prolific scorer to be at his best against ADM, but to win they'll need to be more than a one-man show.
"We can't depend on (Crouthamel) to do everything, but we need his leadership," Davis said. "Caleb definitely gets us pumped up though."
Junior midfielder Christian Lemus gives WCHS a formidable trio on the attack. Lemus, who takes all of the corner kicks and the majority of the penalty kicks, has 11 goals and a team-high 14 assists. Little brother Demar Lemus, just a freshman, has four goals, and senior forward Garrett Gourley has three.
Always searching for another goal is why the Lynx have outscored their last 14 foes by a whopping 61-6 count, and they enter the state tournament with 74 total goals, trailing only class-leader Pella (99) among the eight qualifiers.
What has been the Lynx secret? Head coach Craig Signorin, in just his second season, says it's the result of his players buying into his system.
"We've got guys that are offensive players playing defense, and guys that are goal scorers playing midfield," he said. "The guys have bought into what I want to do and they've accepted responsibility for what they have to do on the field."
Crouthamel has benefitted from the new style and reaped the rewards.
Now there's just one more thing to accomplish, and it starts today.
"It's going to be fun," he said. "I think we can surprise some people."