Prep Soccer

1A No. 10 Williamsburg boys' soccer off to best start in school history

Prep soccer notebook: Engelken, Beckman girls scoring in bunches; Kennedy, Linn-Mar girls unite for charity

With six wins in a row to begin the 2018 season, the Williamsburg boys’ soccer team is off to the best start in school history. (Photo submitted by Williamsburg boys’ soccer)
With six wins in a row to begin the 2018 season, the Williamsburg boys’ soccer team is off to the best start in school history. (Photo submitted by Williamsburg boys’ soccer)
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WILLIAMSBURG — Last season, the Williamsburg boys’ soccer team was within a game of its first state tournament berth.

The best start in school history has the Class 1A 10th-ranked Raiders feeling like this is the bunch to get there.

“It’s one of the better groups we’ve had just all around,” Williamsburg Coach Ryan Sauser said. “It’s not having to rely on one individual, which is helpful. When you can have multiple contributors coming together and working better together, it helps us fight through some adversity and get off to a hot start.”

Williamsburg began the season with six wins in a row, outscored opponents 23-1 and has not surrendered a goal since the April 10 season opener.

Sauser credits a strong, athletic group of midfielders in Matt Cronquist, Roberto Flores and Noah Zollinger, plus defender Tucker Stanerson, for maintaining ball possession and limiting the offensive chances for the opponent.

“I think they’re a lot better than a lot people are giving them credit for right now,” said Benton Community Coach Will Stockman, whose 1A No. 8 Bobcats were blanked by Williamsburg, 1-0, on April 12. “They’ve got a lot of experience.”

Six players have scored at least two goals this season for Williamsburg, led by Flores and junior forward Zach Litwiller with five goals apiece. Cronquist (15 goals in 2017) is the headliner for a group that returned over 85-percent of its scoring from last season.

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“We try to spread it around and put guys in different spots to take advantage of their strengths to get them scoring opportunities,” Sauser said. “The more people we can have contributing that way, the harder it is to key in on one guy.”

Williamsburg will be tested vigorously next week during a seven-day span in which it plays three teams (Center Point-Urbana, Marion, Iowa Mennonite) with a combined record of 18-1.

“It will be a tough stretch to run through,” Sauser said. “An opportunity for guys to grow and adjust to adversity there. We’re looking forward to it.”

Engelken, Beckman scoring in bunches

No girls’ soccer team has scored more goals (38) in Class 1A than Dyersville Beckman.

The Blazers (6-0) are undefeated and ranked No. 15 in the latest IGHSAU rankings, their first appearance in the poll this season.

Beckman sophomore Ashley Engelken is tied for second in 1A with 13 goals. She scored four times in an April 9 victory over Benton Community, then notched back-to-back hat tricks last week in wins against Anamosa and Western Dubuque.

Kennedy, Linn-Mar compete for a cause

The girls’ soccer rivalry between Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Linn-Mar has long been known for great competition on the field.

For nearly a decade, the two teams have banded together to raise funds and awareness in the fight against cancer.

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Before Tuesday’s 1-0 shootout victory for Kennedy at Coe College’s Clark Field, players from both schools presented a check for $3,000 to the Especially for You Fund, the Cedar Rapids group that raises funds for breast cancer screenings and other support services.

The annual “Race Against Breast Cancer” event has been held every year over the past three decades. This year’s race will be held Oct. 7 and will begin downtown at Mercy Medical Center.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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