INDEPENDENCE — The Independence boys’ soccer team feels its ceiling is higher than what it has shown.
Back in April, a win over Class 2A then-No. 9 Decorah was followed by a double-overtime home defeat in which the Mustangs scored three goals against a Marion team that is still undefeated, now ranked second and has not allowed more than one goal in any other game this season.
“I’ve said from the very beginning and despite our record, we’ve got the talent to go to Des Moines,” fourth-year Independence Coach Nate Whited said after the Mustangs blanked Charles City, 9-0, in a Class 2A substate quarterfinal Monday night at Lyle Leinbaugh Field. “There is no doubt in my mind. … The thing is, we followed (the Marion game) up with some weak games. The mental toughness has kind of hurt us at times.”
The Marion loss began a downturn in which Independence (7-11) lost 10 of 13 contests. With the arrival of substate play that began with a convincing win over a first-year program in Charles City (0-11), a renewed sense of optimism permeates the Mustangs’ roster.
“This team has the potential to win,” said junior Sam Crawford, who accounted for two goals and two assists Monday night. “Our speed can really take us far.”
Crawford — who leads the team with 13 goals this season — was one of four Mustang juniors (Sean Geertsema, Kepa Juaristi, Hunter Shannon) with two goals against Charles City, while a fifth junior, Aspen Valenzuela, also scored.
Senior Cliff Baldwin notched four assists and now leads the team with 13 this season, while junior Will Whited added two.
Independence will visit Decorah (10-6), now ranked 11th, in a substate semifinal on Wednesday.
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“I think they want a lot of revenge on us since we kind of handled them pretty good,” said sophomore center midfielder Brady Webb, who assisted on one goal. “I think they are going to be trying too hard to honestly beat us. If we just play our game, we can take them. We play good soccer, we just have some bad games.”
CLASS 2A SUBSTATE QUARTERFINAL
Independence 9, Charles City 0
Goals — Sam Crawford 2 (13), Aspen Valenzuela 1 (6), Sean Geertsema 2 (10), Kepa Juaristi 2 (8), Hunter Shannon 2 (2). Assists — Cliff Baldwin 4 (13), Sam Crawford 2 (8), Will Whited 2 (2), Brady Webb 1 (5).
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