With high school state golf and tennis and even the start of softball and baseball seasons, the Dallas Center-Grimes boys’ soccer team put on fireworks as they punched their ticket to the state tournament.
The sixth ranked Mustangs were on the road for a sub-state championship game against the Raccoon River Conference champs and the seventh ranked A-D-M Tigers in Adel this past Saturday. Both teams averaged at least three goals per game heading into the contest, but it was defense that stole the show and in the end, DC-G broke through the defense and took a late game thriller 1-0.
The game brought a lot of excitement before it even started and after the game played out, it was just as thrilling as fans thought it would be. It was a match up that head coach Collin Lane described as a state caliber contest.
“I feel that game deserved to be at state,” began Lane. “Both teams have the ability to go deep into a state tournament and both teams know how to score at a high level.”
The game featured slow offenses on both sides throughout much of the contest. The first half saw both teams struggle to find solid shots at the opponent goal and both teams ended up scoreless at the half. Much of the same occurred throughout the second stanza although A-D-M found more favor in ball possession.
The DC-G defense stood tall and limited two 13 goal scorers in A-D-M’s Davis Barton and Eli Schwarzkopf scoreless throughout all 80 minutes of play. Overall, the Tiger defense was stifling as well and held a Mustang squad who averaged nearly ten shots on goal per game to seven on Saturday.
In the end, the game came down to the 61st minute of action when the Mustangs were awarded a penalty kick. The best chance at a goal came down to the foot of Nate Friesen who came through with his tenth goal of the season and the eventual game winner.
Defense remained strong for the Mustangs and they shut out a surging A-D-M squad for the remaining 19 minutes to secure the win. Defense was certainly the name of the game and when all was said and done, coach Lane had high praise for his defense against A-D-M.
“I thought our defense was a game changer,” said Lane. “From the first game we played A-D-M we learned a valuable lesson about how to defend strong attacking teams like the Tigers. We slowed them down just enough and I thought it was a great defensive game overall.”
Despite what was a tremendous defensive effort, depth was the aspect that coach Lane spoke about as the biggest piece to the winning puzzle.
“Our depth is what was the biggest key especially with the weather,” started Lane. “I played 20 of our 22 players and all played significant minutes. The depth that I relied on through the heat and everything else was the biggest help for us.”
Depth is also something that Lane mentioned as a strong point moving forward at state.
“The temperature is probably going to be just as hot and unforgiving,” began Lane. “Our depth is going to be even more important especially since we are going to be down a player due to injury. Not to mention the fact that we’ll play the best of the best in that hot weather.”
The win held more than just another win, but a victory that sends the Mustangs to the state tournament for the first time since the 2009 campaign. With seven straight seasons ending in a winning record, Lane spoke about what it felt like for the Mustangs to head back to state in his first year at the head coaching helm.
“Myself and the entire team felt like this was long overdue with all the hard work put in over the years,” said Lane. “We’ve always had the pieces in play, it’s just a matter of putting them together at the right time and I think against A-D-M we were able to put all of those pieces together effectively.”
The Mustangs will now enter the state tournament with a 14-3 record and will take on Xavier of Cedar Rapids on Thursday, May 31. The Mustangs’ opening round match will take place on field number seven and will begin at 2:40 p.m. from the James C. Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.