THE RIDE IS OVER: Go-Hawks take air out of Lynx sails, season in substate

WEBSTER CITY – Seventy-nine minutes of solid soccer, aggressive soccer, controlling soccer meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

It was that 80th minute – one stinkin’ minute – that the Webster City boys’ team wishes it could have back.

Replay it and, who knows, maybe the night ends in celebration rather than tears.

Despite an advantage in nearly every significant statistical category, the 12th-ranked Lynx came up short on the scoreboard last night in a rain-soaked 1-0 loss to 16th-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock in a Class 2A Substate 2 semifinal on the pitch at Lynx Field.

The Go-Hawks (11-4) seized control with the only goal of the match in the opening minute of the second half, but otherwise it was Webster City that played the role of the aggressor.

“The way we played form start to finish, that’s exactly what I wanted,” an emotional Craig Signorin, the Lynx head coach, said as the rain continued to drizzle down following last night’s season-ending loss. “But sometimes it just doesn’t go your way and it didn’t for us. We had our chances, but it didn’t go our way.”

WCHS (9-4-1) took 16 more shots (27-11) and doubled up the Go-Hawks in shots on goal (14-7). The Lynx also took five more corner kicks (7-2), but time and time again the ball refused to find the back of the net.

W-SR goalkeeper JD Conklin had something to do with that, too.

Conklin came up with 14 clutch saves, including seven after his team jumped to the lead. Conklin made a pair of diving stops over the final 39 minutes.

WCHS dominated the opening half and rifled off 17 shots, but only three that drew the attention of Conklin.

With the slight breeze that there was at its back in the second half, W-SR wasted little time in erasing the scoreless bout. A crossing pass from the right flank drifted over the goal box and landed right at the foot of Tanner Hanks, who brushed the ball just out of the reach of a diving Austin Koons and inside the left post with 39:16 remaining.

It was Hanks’ 18th goal of the season and it came after a frustrating first 40 minutes in which the Lynx defense gave him very little room to breathe.

“We shut down (Hanks) in that first half and that’s exactly what we wanted to do,” Signorin said. “But we knew they would eventually have a chance.”

The Lynx best chance to even the match came with just 2:40 remaining on an indirect kick penalty against W-SR that gave them a free kick just outside the box. But Christian Lemus’ rocket sailed high and wide right, and WCHS never got another look at net.

Koons, an all-stater in 2012, finished with six saves.

The loss was particularly tough for Signorin, a third-year coach, as he was forced to say goodbye to a group of eight seniors that helped put the Lynx on the statewide soccer map.

Koons, Lemus, Brody Foster, Nick Olmstead, Kirk Greenley, Jon Tasler, Samuel Boman and Lucas Daniels were on Signorin’s mind as he tearfully addressed the team afterwards.

“I just told them I love them,” Signorin said of the brief huddle near midfield. “Getting to know these guys the last three years, I told them it wasn’t enough. I’m just extremely proud of this group.”

The 2013 class played a big role in WCHS reaching the state tournament for the first time in school history a season ago.

The Go-Hawks will now face third-ranked Hudson (14-2) on Saturday for the right to advance to state. The match will take place in Hudson at noon.

The Pirates snuck by Clear Lake, 2-1, in the other substate semifinal last night.