116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Defending state champion Linn-Mar derailed Marshalltown's state-tournament hopes, 4-0, thanks to a three-goal effort from junior Leroy Enzugusi.
Enzugusi, Iowa's Gatorade player of the year, showed exactly why he won the award for the state's best player, putting three goals in the back of net. The Lions' first goal, a strike from Blake Comstock, came on a rebound of an Enzugusi shot blocked by Marshalltown's goalkeeper.
Comstock's goal came at the eight- minute mark of the first half. His goal opened the gates for Enzugusi, who put the No. 7-ranked Lions' second goal in the net 11 minutes later.
Linn-Mar grabbed the fifth seed and will take on Ames at 5:05 p.m. Thursday.
'The whole season, we've been working on finishing,' Enzugusi said. 'Last game, my finishing wasn't very good, so I made a decision to come back this game and really put it away.'
And put it away he did. Linn-Mar midfielders floated the ball down field for Enzugusi to get, and most times he used breakaway speed to win the ball from the Bobcat defense.
Advancing the ball through the midfield, as well as the finishes by his forwards, was exactly what Linn-Mar head coach Corey Brinkmeyer wanted to see from his team.
'I thought today we really connected passes well,' he said. 'That's what I want our guys to do is to connect passes through the midfielders and then advance it forward with numbers.'
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The Lions had their desired numbers advantage for most of the game. The ball rarely left the Bobcats' half of the field and Linn-Mar out-shot Marshalltown by a tally of 18-5. Enzugusi even started the second half on the bench, and was pulled at the 71st minute.
Brinkmeyer also said he liked his players keeping it simple on their shots.
'Sometimes we have a flare for the dramatic,' Brinkmeyer said. 'I would rather just see them tuck it in the side netting and not worry if it hits the post or goes in the upper corner.'
Enzugusi's goals all met his coach's wishes. Each was a touch past the last line of the Marshalltown defense and into the far corner of the goal.
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The game had a physical element as well, with collisions echoing throughout the stadium and Linn-Mar's Devin Eby leaving the game on a golf cart in the first half. though Brinkmeyer said Eby only had the wind knocked out of him. Eby returned in the second half.
With a 4-0 advantage, most teams would switch to a defensive focus aimed at protecting their lead. But even with a commanding lead and the constant physical presence of the Bobcats, the Lions stayed on the attack, continuing to pressure the Bobcats on the offensive side, even without Enzugusi on the field, and flexing their might on defense.
'Offense is the best defense,' Comstock said. 'Just keep going.'