What can you do?
It was only a shared look, but that's the message that Webster City junior goalkeeper Austin Koons and senior defender Aaron Hoffman seemed to telepathically convey to one another a split-second before they embraced in the rain yesterday afternoon at Cownie Soccer Park.
The season was over.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Garrett Gourley (11) and ADM’s Anthony Weiland jockey for possession of the ball in the first half yesterday at the Class 2A state tournament in Des Moines. Gourley is one of six seniors that helped put Webster City on the prep soccer map this spring.
Had that cold, hard fact even had time to sink in yet as they milled around the middle of the field only minutes after Webster City's 3-0 Class 2A state quarterfinal loss to ADM Adel? I doubt it, but reality began to creep it as the entire team huddled around head coach Craig Signorin for one final talk.
The season was really over.
But the memories, the accomplishments, those will live on for years to come.
Look, I'll be the first to admit that I know the bare minimum about the game (Is it a game? Is it a match?) of soccer, but I'm learning more and more every day. There have been times when Signorin may as well have been speaking Chinese as he explained a set play to me, but I nodded my head and grinned anyway, as if I had a clue.
Soccer has been an acquired taste for me, and I'm happy to say the light bulb above my head has finally clicked on.
I can thank this Lynx team for that.
This group has set the bar for future teams, and it's been set high. The first state tournament appearance, the first 14-match win streak in program history, the most wins in a season with 18 ... the list of firsts goes on and on.
But more than that, this team was just fun to watch.
The legacy of Caleb Crouthamel will live on for years as future players attempt to break his career goals record, which stands at 55 after a sure-to-be all-state senior season of 26 goals. His speed, his wizardry with the ball on his foot, and his overall passion for the sport was on display nightly, and it's not a stretch to say he's the best player to ever put on the Webster City uniform.
He's the benchmark, kids. And if someone ever tells you your soccer skills remind them of Caleb Crouthamel, well, consider it the highest of compliments.
Signorin, a former soccer player himself and a two-year veteran on the sideline, is certainly going to miss Crouthamel, along with Hoffman and fellow seniors Garrett Gourley, Jonny Davis, Adam Wagner and John Bergeson next season, but he's in the midst of building something ... something that could be great. And it's obvious he cares.
"(The players) are like a son, a brother, a friend to me ... it was so much fun to watch them this whole year," Signorin said. "Obviously it didn't go our way (yesterday), but this season we've done multiple things that this program hasn't accomplished before."
ADM had never reached the state tournament prior to seven years ago, and now the Tigers have four appearances on the big stage under their belts. Is it foolish to think Webster City could be on the verge of building a similar dynasty? Hardly.
The talent is in place. Junior midfielder Christian Lemus can make the ball dance, and he'll be expected to fill Crouthamel's shoes next spring. Little brother Demar Lemus will only be a sophomore a year from now. Koons and three-fourths of the back line - Kirk Greenley, Brody Foster and Nick Olmstead - will be back as well.
This state tournament appearance may have ended with a hint of disappointment, but it's only the beginning.