Jessen: No Fear: Senior scores goal 4 months after breaking neck

WEBSTER CITY – Brandon Jessen flew around the pitch, diving at balls and crashing into defenders without hesitation on a picturesque Friday evening at Lynx Field.

For most soccer players that’s no big deal. But most players aren’t just four months removed from a broken neck either.

Yep, he’s back.

Jessen, a Webster City senior, returned to action in last Monday’s win over CAL – just 121 days after he suffered a broken C1 vertebra on Dec. 21, 2013 at the Don Miller wrestling tournament in Fort Dodge.

Out of his chest and neck brace since late March, Jessen showed he’s still got it on Friday when he slammed in his first goal of the season in the Lynx 4-1 victory over Iowa Falls-Alden.

“I’m a little nervous out there, but I just put it behind me because I want to play hard for my team,” Jessen, a four-year varsity soccer veteran, said. “I didn’t think I was going to get to play, so I was really relieved and surprised when my doctor told me I was cleared to play, especially when he told me I can head the ball with no restrictions.”

Jessen wasn’t the only person nervous when he checked in for the first time.

“It’s really big and it’s really scary at the same time,” WCHS head coach Craig Signorin said. “But it’s tremendous to have him back … he’s a guy that I can put anywhere. He knows the game and he knows what I want to do on the field.”

Jessen’s goal in the 52nd minute off a throw-in assist from Seth Crouthamel was part of an offensive blitz by WCHS (5-2), which owned a 21-7 shots advantage, including a 12-6 cushion on goal.

Four different players found the back of the net and all four goals were assisted.

The Lynx led 2-0 at the intermission and then dominated the second 40 minutes despite one slip up in the back. Iowa Falls-Alden (1-5) got just one look at the net in the second half.

“I’m happy with the win,” Signorin said. “I liked the effort more in the second half. It led to more chances.”

Landon Daniels put WCHS ahead to stay in the 31st minute off a set play on a corner kick. He chipped the ball short to Demar Lemus, who shuffled it right back to Daniels on the left side of the field. He sent a low squirter towards the net that Cadets’ goalkeeper Kolton Peterson didn’t see until it was too late.

“I liked the first goal,” Signorin said. “I just let Landon and Demar do their thing and if they make their runs that ball is shaded from the goalkeeper.”

Crouthamel got behind the defense on a pass from Jose Cruz and easily beat Peterson one-on-one with just 14.9 seconds left in the half to give WCHS the 2-0 lead.

Jessen’s goal pushed the lead to 3-0.

Zach Scott finished off the Lynx scoring in the 76th minute when he beat two defenders on the left flank and ripped a low bullet just inside the right post. Daniels got the assist on the goal.

Peterson robbed Scott on a diving stop in the first half and Lynx sophomore Brandon Young also just missed a highlight reel goal in the same stanza. Young sent a left-footed rocket bending towards the goal from 30 yards out. It just clipped the left post and careened out of bounds.

Ashton High made five first-half saves in goal for WCHS, which will return to Lynx Field this evening to take on Garner-Hayfield/Ventura at 6 p.m.