They came, they saw, they conquered. That may have well been the motto for the Dallas Center-Grimes boys soccer team as they once again punched their ticket to the state tournament after besting long time rival ADM 3-1 in the sub-state final Saturday afternoon.
It was a contest worthy of a state tournament match-up but local fans were able to witness it Saturday in an epic showdown that Mustang head coach Collin Lane knew was going to be competitive before the first kick.
“Every time we play ADM it's a very hard fought and well played out contest,” said Lane. “They are so evenly matched with us that there is no one game that either team can say they dominated.”
It may not have been domination but it was real close for the likes of the Mustangs who overcame an early first half goal to rally back, and punch their ticket to the Cownine Soccer Complex in Des Moines for the second straight season. When their season was on the line, senior star Noah Webster stepped up and delivered two of DC-G's three goals scored for the contest.
After ADM kicked off the scoring at the 28:52 mark in the first half, the Webster and the Mustangs took no time in retaliating as Webster blew past the entire ADM defense just 12 seconds later for the unassisted equalizer. What was a favorable atmosphere for ADM now evened out, which was a huge step towards the win according to senior defensmen Rudy Stallman.
“To get that equalizer in the quick fashion that we did really put us in good position and put the wind back in our sails,” said Stallman. “That really helped us get back to what we do and take the lead with the next goal.”
It wasn't long before the Mustangs would strike again, doing so with 23:54 left in the opening half. On a well-placed corner kick by senior Garrett Reels, Webster tacked on his second goal of the contest by besting everybody in the air and connected on a header for the ages that landed, giving DC-G the lead just five minutes after ADM's only lead. It was something seen in video games and the skilled Webster spoke about the goal after the contest.
“I knew I had to do something and when I saw Garrett's corner I knew I had to get to the ball first and I did and it was absolutely amazing,” said Webster. “I timed my jump just right knowing that the ADM players around me were just a bit off.”
That goal gave the Mustangs the 2-1 advantage which carried into the halftime break. Once the teams came out of the halftime break, the already aggressive play seemed to ramp up for both teams with a few yellow cards dished out. It was a game where the success was truly earned and certainly did not come without it's fair share of bumps and bruises.
“It was a physical game but we knew we'd get that with how good ADM is,” said Webster. “We knew we had to match if not beat their intensity and we did that here today.”
If the momentum was even before that goal, it sure wasn't afterwards as the Mustangs seemed to hold all the cards and every bit of the advantage.
“It was huge for us and how we played going down the stretch,” began Lane. “It really shifted the momentum our way and was exactly what we needed. We went from being on the defensive to being on the offensive so quickly, it seemed like ADM just wasn't able to recover. They're a phenomenal team so for us to do that was monumental.”
Even though it was merely a two goal contest, it may as well have been more than that as the Mustang defense played lock down and didn't allow a clean shot on goal for the final 15 minutes of regulation. It was a defensive effort highlighted by the likes of Brennon Woody, Rudy Stallman and others.
“It was all about communication,” began Stallman. “With a team like ADM you have to communicate just as well as you preform physically and with that, we were able to throw them off their game and break into our offense more.”
The win officially gives the Mustangs their second straight trip to the state tournament, and the second straight under head coach Collin Lane, who Stallman gave a lot of credit to following the win.
“Coach Lane has done so much for this team,” said Stallman. “He instilled in us that it's not just about how fast you run or how well you kick the ball, it's also about having vision for the game. Our soccer IQ as a team has gone up tremendously since he has been here and it's his vision that has helped us get this far.”
DC-G not only collected their second straight state meet appearance, but the sixth ever in program history.
The Mustangs delivered their third goal of the game just nine minutes into the second half after the ADM goalkeeper came out of the box to stop a ball, only to arrive after sophomore Eli Followwill punched it over the diving goalie for his fifth goal of the season and a 3-1 lead for DC-G.
The Mustangs will begin their 2019 state run Thursday, May 30 as they take on quarterfinal action.