FLYING HIGH: Rookie goalie stellar, Lynx win sixth straight match

WEBSTER CITY – Is this kid really just a freshman?

He certainly doesn’t play like it.

Yes, Webster City goalkeeper Ashton High is a freshman and, yes, that’s a fact that makes head coach Craig Signorin extremely happy.

High put his talents on display last night at Lynx Field, as he stopped a penalty kick less than sevenminutes into the first half and then another when the match was on the line in Webster City’s 1-0 overtime victory over 11th-ranked (Class 1A) Clear Lake.

“He was huge and as a freshman to save one is big. But to save two? That’s just huge,” Signorin said after the team celebrated its sixth consecutive victory near midfield. “That first one definitely sparked us and we needed that against Clear Lake.”

The two teams played 100 minutes – 80 in regulation and 20 in a pair of overtime sessions – without putting the ball in the net. That left it up to five penalty kicks to decide the outcome of the tense confrontation between North Central Conference rivals.

WCHS (8-2) went 5-for-5 in the PK phase, punctuated by Brandon Jessen’s rocket into the high side of the net on the left for the match winner. The senior was immediately swarmed by half of his teammates while the rest raced to High’s side as he looked on from near the goal.

“Each player took a PK at the end of practice (on Monday),” Signorin said. “I had a feeling it was going to come down to the fifth kicker and I wanted Jessen. The kid deserved the chance and it was pretty awesome to see that.”

Demar Lemus, Seth Crouthamel, Esler Mejia and Landon Daniels also make good on their kicks in sudden death.

Jessen’s goal may have clinched the win, but it was High’s theatrics earlier that made the difference. In the second round, the rookie dove and blocked a shot by the Lions’ Jared Anderson to give WCHS the edge for good.

High had confidence after he pulled off a similar feat early. Clear Lake’s Antonio DiMarco was awarded a PK off a handball with 33:18 to go in the first half, but High was in perfect position to block the shot with his body.

“My team depends on me, so I just had to do it for my team,” High said. “I just look for tendencies. They’ll look at one side and then you kind of know it’s going to the other side and that’s what happened.”

Clear Lake (6-2) owned a 19-10 advantage in shots taken, but WCHS took one more shot on goal, 7-6. The Lions’ speed up top, particularly from DiMarco and Ernest Miszewski, forced the Lynx on the defensive for much of the battle, but the back line never broke.

Connor Foster, just a sophomore, was flawless as the last line in front of High.

“They looked like they had 15 guys out there at times, so we just played it a little bit safe in the back,” Signorin said. “Connor Foster played his best game of the season and I guarantee he’s only going to get better.”

Going into the wind throughout the second half and the first 10-minute OT period, the Lynx managed just two shots on goal.

“We had maybe one or two OK scoring chances and they probably had five or six,” Signorin said. “It was a battle.”

WCHS will look to add to its current run of wins on Thursday when it travels to Boone to take on the Toreadors at 3:30 p.m.