IOWA CITY — John Clark has always demonstrated a knack for finding the back of the net.
Even as he manned the back line for the Iowa City High boys’ soccer team over the past two seasons, Clark managed 10 goals and three assists in 32 games.
When City High Coach Jose Michel Fajardo tried to give his offense a boost by moving Clark to forward, the senior flourished.
“I’ve just gotten more used to it and the guys that are around me are helping me play really well,” Clark said after scoring two goals in a 5-0 victory for fourth-ranked Iowa City High against Ottumwa in a Class 3A boys’ soccer substate final Saturday at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex. “The team really brings it together for me.”
Clark has scored a team-high 18 goals this season for City High (16-4), which qualified for the state tournament for the seventh year in a row.
“He’s been extremely valuable,” Fajardo said. “He is a kid who works extremely hard, is very disciplined and has scored a lot of goals. ... We converted him into a forward and he’s done an unbelievable job.”
The Little Hawks are seeded sixth and will play a 3A state quarterfinal against third-seeded Bettendorf (14-2) on Thursday at 5:05 p.m. at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
City High blanked Bettendorf, 3-0, on April 28.
“We’ve never won a state championship,” Clark said. “We’ve gotten very close. We’re expected to go to state every year and we’re just ready to get it done this time.”
The Little Hawks jumped on Ottumwa with three goals in the first 14 minutes of the game. Sophomore Acheke Mause fielded a long pass from Drake signee Jackson Meyer and got City High on the scoreboard just 77 seconds after play began.
“I saw the ball coming towards me,” Mausa said. “I looked up, I had composure and I put it away. … I knew how to make the run in so I could just make a good touch in and put it on goal.”
Senior Hunter deTuits scored his first goal of the season just two minutes later, while Clark added his first score of the game in the 14th minute with an assist from senior Cameron Chavez.
“It really boosts us,” Clark said. “We know that we can come out and play in any weather and we can the play the way we need to play and we can get it done.”
Junior Ben Steve scored his 14th goal of the season early in the second half, while Clark added a late score off an assist from senior Ethan deTuits.
“I think that we’ve been playing well the whole year,” Fajardo said. “We’ve had our ups and downs. We have been responsible for the failures we had. We were responsible for them and we know it. The level of the team has been very consistent throughout the year and today was just another day like that.”
CLASS 3A SUBSTATE FINAL
No. 4 Iowa City High 5, Ottumwa 0
Goals — Acheke Mausa 1 (2), Hunter deTuits 1 (1), John Clark 2 (18), Ben Steve 1 (14).
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