Goal trumps gut: Cruz overcomes stomach pain, propels Lynx to win

GILBERT – One good shot that finds the back of the net seems to be a fool-proof way to cure a stomach ache.

It worked for Webster City senior Jose Cruz Friday evening at Gilbert’s new esthetically pleasing complex. And his ensuing celebration was all the Lynx needed to knock off the Tigers, 1-0, to secure their fifth consecutive victory.

Cruz complained of stomach pains to WCHS head coach Craig Signorin with 15 minutes remaining in regulation and the score still stuck on goose eggs. Signorin used tough love with his veteran and the move paid off.

Six minutes later the ailment was forgotten.

“He told me he was coming down with something and that he wanted to come out,” Signorin said while chuckling after the win. “I just told him ‘no, you’re staying in and we’re going to score,’ and that’s what happened.”

Cruz’s goal ended a 31-minute stretch of near misses for the Lynx. They pounded three shots off the posts and crossbar in the second half before Cruz finally got one to go their way with 8:55 remaining. He pulled up 35 yards away on the left side of the field and unleashed a rocket that cleared the outstretched arms of Gilbert goalkeeper Mitchell Daharsh, ricocheted off the crossbar and bounded into the net.

“It was awesome. One of the best I’ve ever seen,” Signorin said of Cruz’s sixth goal of the season, which put him just one behind team leader Seth Crouthamel. “These guys know how to strike the ball clean, and especially with this wind and with the way the ball bounces so beautiful out here.”

WCHS owned the second half with a 14-4 shots advantage and 7-2 shots on goal edge. Goalkeeper Ashton High needed to make two saves over the final five minutes to maintain the lead; the freshman had three saves in the match.

The Lynx out shot Gilbert (4-5) 22-9 overall, including 10-3 on goal.

It took WCHS a half to get its legs back following a 1-0 overtime road win over North Polk on Thursday, and a few minor adjustments at the break made the difference.

“Not to make excuses, but the boys were a little tired from (Thursday) night and it just took them a little while to find their legs and still just continue to find the speed of the turf,” Signorin said. “We finally got our numbers up (in the second half) and got a lot more chances.”

WCHS peppered shots at Daharsh, mostly from long range, throughout the final half. Landon Daniels had a free kick from 30 yards out clang off the right post in the 44th minute, Crouthamel had a boot sail on him and over the goal in the 64th minute and Demar Lemus slammed a shot off the crossbar in the 66th minute.

Daharsh also made several quality stops before Cruz found the answer. He just got his fingers on a low shot by Crouthamel in the open in the 51st minute, and late in the half he dove to his right to deny Esler Mejia.

Brandon Jessen again showed his versatility by taking over for an injured Cole Briese on defense and helping the back line collect its fourth shutout of the season.

“Jessen is doing an awesome job for us … even (Gilbert coach B.J. Jordison) said (No.) 11 was just everywhere. He had no fear out there.” Signorin said. “Connor (Foster) is just getting better every game, and the same goes for Colin (Heinrichs) and Riley (Beightol).”

WCHS will put its winning streak on the line Tuesday when it hosts rival Clear Lake at 5:30 p.m. The boys’ match will take place after the girls’ showdown between the two schools.