1 Down, 2 To Go

WEBSTER CITY – Dangerous doesn’t even begin to describe the front line of the South Tama County boys’ soccer team.

But was Webster City scared? Nah.

It didn’t hurt that the Lynx got their own offense clicking early on either.

With an early surge of confidence off a goal in the fifth minute, 13th-ranked Webster City built a 3-0 lead and then hung on for dear life late to knock off South Tama County, 3-2, in a Class 2A Substate 2 quarterfinal match last night at Lynx Field.

Winners of three straight matches, the Lynx (16-4) advanced to Thursday’s semifinal round at Hudson (9-9). Play is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

South Tama County (11-7) – winners of four straight and 11 of 13 entering the postseason – certainly had the resume to get the Lynx attention. The Trojans scored a state-leading 84 goals during the regular season and twice lit up the scoreboard for 19 in a match.

The Lynx defense and, most notably, freshman goalkeeper Ashton High were more than up to the challenge.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” WCHS head coach Craig Signorin said. “They’re just completely dangerous through the middle and all the way to the front, but the defense came through and Ashton made some huge stops.

“They had 84 goals … I don’t care who you play, that’s a lot of goals. So I’d say our defense played pretty well.”

STC may have controlled possession for longer periods of time, particularly in the first half, but WCHS made the most out of its opportunities.

The Lynx owned a 21-15 edge in shots, including a 15-9 margin on frame.

It was 9-9 in shots taken and 7-6 in the Lynx favor on goal in the opening 40 minutes, but WCHS managed to rip the net twice to build the 2-0 cushion at intermission.

A perfect crossing pass by Seth Crouthamel was just out of the reach of a diving Luis Perez, the Trojans’ goalkeeper, and it landed right on the foot of Zach Scott, who punched it into the net to give WCHS a 1-0 lead with 35:34 left in the opening half.

“We took advantage of the opportunities we had,” Signorin said. “That first goal was big because, honestly, we’ve never been in the position where we’ve scored in the first five minutes.”

STC was called for a handball inside the box with 7:52 remaining in the opening half and junior Demar Lemus made the Trojans pay. He got Perez to guess the wrong way and he blasted the penalty kick high inside the upper 90 on the right to push the advantage to 2-0.

“Going into halftime like that, Demar’s PK was huge,” Signorin said.

STC had its chances in the first half to close the gap, but High made three diving saves; he finished with seven stops.

“Ashton, I just look at (assistant coach Nick) Olmstead and shake my head because it’s unbelievable what he’s doing,” Signorin said.

Esler Meija sent a laser from the left flank past Perez and into the net to increase the WCHS lead to 3-0 with 30:11 remaining.

But, eventually, Signorin knew the Trojans were going to kick it into gear.

A free kick from midfield turned into a rebound goal for STC’s James Lares with 23:56 left.

Scott appeared to have his second goal on another beautiful assist from Crouthamel just five minutes later, but the score was waved off on an offsides call. Still, Signorin took notice of the passing skills of his junior.

“Seth is not the world’s fastest, but he can take guys on,” Signorin said. “He had his best game of controlling the ball.”

STC made it interesting with 2:34 remaining when it scored again on an own goal. WCHS senior Brandon Jessen leapt to head the ball out of the zone, but he took a nudge in the back from the Trojans’ Jeremy Lowe and it glanced off his forehead into the net.

But WCHS buckled down over the final two minutes and didn’t allow the Trojans to get off another shot.

Signorin knows how good the Trojans are and he says the win should give WCHS momentum going into Thursday’s semifinal.

“Clear Lake is maybe a more well-rounded team, but as far as dangerous kids all over the field, this is one of the best teams we’ve faced hands down,” he said. “Three goals, that’s where we want to be every game.”