WATERLOO — Many soccer coaches believe that once one team scores a goal, the opponent is immediately vulnerable to surrender another one.
Nelson Diaz and Gledi Mahungu gave convincing credence to that belief.
The Cedar Rapids Jefferson teammates both scored first-half goals within seconds of each other as the J-Hawks routed Mason City, 5-0, in a Class 3A boys’ soccer substate quarterfinal Monday at Cedar Valley Soccer Complex.
“Just connecting passes and trying to be creative up there,” Mahungu said. “Making sure we keep the ball at our feet and keep the possession and take a couple of shots.”
In the 12th minute, Diaz broke a scoreless tie with a dribble to the right of the Mason City back line and a strike past the goalkeeper. Mahungu tacked on another seconds later.
After junior David Niyogushima extended the Jefferson lead to 3-0 with his second goal of the season in the 24th minute, Mahungu and Diaz again exchanged goals during the final minutes of the first half.
“With him, (we’re) always playing together, passing the ball, communicating,” Diaz said.
Senior Cody Christoffersen tallied two assists, while junior Blaze Bouzek and Diaz each contributed one.
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Diaz now has nine goals this season, while Mahungu has five since returning to the lineup May 1 after fulfilling his academic requirements.
“They both have excellent skill with the ball at their feet,” Jefferson Coach John O’Connor said.
After beginning the season with a 1-7 record and allowing at least two goals in each of their first eight games, the J-Hawks (7-9) have shut out four opponents during a surge of six wins in eight contests and have posted their highest single-season victory total since winning nine games in 2012.
Mason City retired at 4-11.
Jefferson will play second-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie (12-1) on Wednesday at 6:30 in a substate semifinal at John Wall Field.
Prairie defeated Jefferson, 3-0, on April 17.
“We feel good about our chances,” O’Connor said. “Like everything, they’ve improved a ton. They’ve got a lot of talent up front, very physical and can shoot it from anywhere on the field. Our defense has come a long ways since the first half of the season.”
CLASS 3A SUBSTATE QUARTERFINAL
Cedar Rapids Jefferson 5, Mason City 0
Goals — Nelson Diaz 2 (9), Gledi Mahungu 2 (5), David Niyogushima 1 (2). Assists — Cody Christoffersen 2, Blaze Bouzek 1, Nelson Diaz 1.
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