Fever pitch

WEBSTER CITY – The goals came in bunches, as did the wins for the Webster City boys’ soccer team a season ago.

Records fell. Fans began to come out in droves. Players, coaches and families celebrated.

Oh, and there was that little trip to the Class 2A state tournament – the first Lynx team to qualify during the program’s existence.

But that was 11 months ago, and now head coach Craig Signorin and his players are out to prove one thing: they’re no one-hit wonder.

Webster City, ranked No. 8 in the preseason poll, returns to the pitch with a renewed sense of energy as it sets out to follow up last spring’s awakening, and the Lynx have plenty of ammunition to make another strong surge towards the state tournament.

And they can’t wait to get started.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and I know the boys have too,” Signorin, now in his third year in charge of the program, said. “My expectations are always set high, and we’ve got a good group that has been together for a long time. This season means a lot to them.”

Coming off an 18-3-1 campaign in 2012 that included an eye-popping 14-match win streak prior to its 3-0 loss to ADM Adel in the state tournament quarterfinal round, WCHS its second-team all-state goalkeeper Austin Koons, the bulk of its suffocating defensive unit and arguably the best midfielder in the history of the program in Christian Lemus.

Sounds great, right? But there are significant holes as well.

WCHS must replace the program’s all-time scoring leader in Caleb Crouthamel he was also a second-team all-state selection — who exited the stage with 55 career goals, including a single-season record 25 a year ago. The Lynx also lost fellow forward Jonny Davis, who made a significant impact in his one and only year on the field with 16 goals, not to mention defender Aaron Hoffman.

“We know who we lost,” Signorin said. “Now we’re going to have some younger guys out there, but we’re just looking for them to step up. We’ll see what happens once they get in the spotlight.”

Lemus, a senior, possesses both speed and power in the middle of the field, and he will continue to be the architect of the offense from his spot. Even while deferring to Crouthamel and Davis a year ago, he still managed to punch in 11 goals to go along with a team-high 14 assists.

“I’ve got to keep (Lemus) right where he is and have him orchestrate,” Signorin said. “I think he’ll score when he needs to because he can take over in the middle. He has a lot of weapons up top and on the outside and as strong as we are in the back, I think we’ll be OK.

“Last year we beat teams pretty heavily, but you can win a soccer match 1-0, too.”

Signorin will turn to seniors Lucas Daniels and Sam Bowman, as well as sophomore Brandon Jessen to pick up the scoring slack. They combined for six goals a season ago.

Sophomore Demar Lemus, who notched four goals and five assists in 2012, will also work into the lineup as the season progresses.

The defense will be no doubt be stout again. Koons collected 70 saves against just 13 goals allowed last spring, and the Lynx registered 10 shutouts.

Seniors Brody Foster, Nick Olmstead and Kirk Greenley all return on defense, and classmate Jon Tasler is ready to step in and fill the void left by Hoffman.

Foster says the group knows it needs to be even better in its last foray.

“There’s definitely a lot of emphasis on defense this year just because we know our scoring will be down a little bit,” Foster said. “It’s going to be really important for us to play well this year.”

WCHS is scheduled to begin the season next Thursday against Ballard in Huxley.