DES MOINES — The initial onslaught produced a 1-0 deficit, but Iowa Mennonite had found its footing late in the first half of its boys’ soccer state tournament debut.
And then, like he has more than any other player this spring, Des Moines Christian forward Ben Webster struck. After a midfield turnover, Curran Ingram hit Webster on the counterattack in the 38th minute. The senior forward cut left, then fired back across the goal for his second of the game and 56th of the season.
“That just sort of took a shot of our confidence,” IMS senior center back Mitchell Schmieder said. “We were still sort of able to stay composed going into half, but that was definitely tough.”
Webster added a penalty-kick goal in the second half to up his season total to 57 and No. 9 Des Moines Christian advanced to the Class 1A quarterfinals with a 4-0 win Thursday at Cownie Soccer Park.
Iowa Mennonite started the second half much better than the first, winning five corner kicks and producing three shots in the early stages. IMS brought on an extra midfielder to mark DMC playmaker Blake Witty, but that couldn’t prevent a moment of brilliance. Sophomore Cody Smith picked his head up from outside the box and lofted a shot into the upper corner for a 3-0 lead in the 57th minute. Webster’s PK two minutes later sealed it.
The Lions overpowered second-ranked IMS with their speed and athleticism with five shots in the first five minutes of the game, the fifth from Webster hitting the back of the net.
Iowa Mennonite Coach Marcus Miller had little information about Des Moines Christian (16-1) aside from stats and was forced to make adjustments on the fly.
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“You saw right away that (Webster) and (Witty) both had really good speed and were both really good on the ball,” Miller said. “It took a few minutes for our defense to adjust to that. We were giving up way too much space in the midfield so that’s one of the adjustments we made in the midfield.”
At a traditional basketball power, guys like Schmieder were able to turn some attention to Iowa Mennonite’s soccer program this spring with an 18-2 record and a first trip to the spring state tournament.
“There’s been a lot of butting heads with this group, but it’s been nice to see them come together and all find a role,” Miller said. “To get to state, finally, I don’t know if you need that to legitimize your program but it’s nice to finally make it here.”
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