Prep Soccer

Another Ben Webster hat trick foils Williamsburg in boys' state soccer semifinals

Des Moines Christian defeats Raiders 4-1 for spot in 1A title game

Williamsburg’s Leighton Jones (3) reacts after a Des Moines Christian goal in the first period of their Class 1A semifinal at the boys prep soccer tournament at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Williamsburg’s Leighton Jones (3) reacts after a Des Moines Christian goal in the first period of their Class 1A semifinal at the boys prep soccer tournament at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — Holding a 1-0 lead for 72 minutes against the highest-scoring team in the state was always going to be a tough ask.

Ben Webster made sure Williamsburg couldn’t make it to halftime.

The state’s leading scorer upped his season goals total to 60 with two in the final 13 minutes of the first half and a third in the second half, and No. 9 Des Moines Christian defeated No. 6 Williamsburg 4-1 in a Class 1A boys’ soccer state semifinal Friday at Cownie Soccer Park.

“You know when you’re going against a team like that, you plan to keep them off the board, but there’s a good chance you’re not going to win 1-0 in a game like that,” Williamsburg Coach Ryan Sauser said.

It was Webster’s second consecutive hat trick, putting him two goals away from the all-time record for goals in a season, set just last year by Iowa Falls-Alden/AGWSR’s Marcos Vila. The Lions have put in 129 goals this year.

DMC (17-1) blitzed quarterfinal opponent Iowa Mennonite with a goal in the first five minutes en route to a 4-0 win, but the Raiders (14-4) jumped on top first in this one. Tucker Stanerson headed in a rebound from a free kick that bounced off the crossbar for his second goal of the season. Williamsburg had just two other shots on target.

Noah Zollinger drew the assignment of man-marking Webster and his backline mates were frequently available to help. But eventually, the DMC senior forward found a breakthrough.

Cody Smith fed Blake Witty in the middle and he slipped a ball into the box that Webster latched onto and finished in the 27th minute. Prior to that, Webster was forced to find service mostly on the flanks.

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“We just tried to lock up on him up front there,” Sauser said. “Obviously, his numbers show he’s a good player there. So you’ve got to keep track of him. I figured the easiest way was to mark up on him. I thought Noah did a great job with him.”

Webster notched the go-ahead goal in the 33rd minute, driving a hard shot from distance that slipped through the fingertips of goalkeeper Joe Phillips, who had just made a leaping save from almost the same spot.

The Raiders stayed within striking distance at halftime, but Curran Ingram scored when a free kick ping-ponged to his feet in the 52nd minute. Webster got his hat trick with a powerful header 13 minutes later for the final tally, assisted by Kyle McGuire.

Top-ranked Iowa City Regina (17-3) will now be tasked with slowing down the DMC attack in Saturday’s Class 1A championship game at noon.

“We’ve seen teams that have sat back a lot and clogged up the back. We’ve seen teams that have pushed up really high, try to play the offside trap. We have a lot of different things that we can bring at them,” Webster said. “It’s not just me out there. I have a lot of different teammates that are contributing to the scoring.”

Williamsburg will try to end its first state tournament on a high note when it meets No. 11 Gilbert (14-8) in the consolation game.

“This is a great group of guys and they’ve put in a ton of work to get here,” Sauser said. “This program has changed a lot over the last few years and these guys have a lot to do with that. I’m proud of them.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8252; nathan.ford@thegazette.com

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