VINTON — Healthy, confident and experienced.
The Benton Community boys’ soccer team is as ready as it will ever be for what appears to be a rugged substate bracket.
“The guys are getting healthy,” Benton Coach Will Stockman said after the Class 1A No. 16 Bobcats edged No. 7 Vinton-Shellsburg, 2-1, in a Wamac Conference match Wednesday at Vinton-Shellsburg High School. “At the start of the season, we were down some players. … The guys are getting healthy, so we have options. We are really able to place people where we need them. They are just fine at the right time, it seems like. Hopefully next Monday we can keep it going.”
Monday brings a 1A substate quarterfinal match against Williamsburg (5-8), a state semifinalist last season and one of six squads in the eight-team substate bracket that are either ranked or receiving votes in the latest Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings.
The match will be played in Van Horne on the Benton campus.
“That is great,” senior midfielder Zach Brecht said. “We are so happy. We feel very lucky that we are able to play on our home in front of all of our fans. That means a lot to us. We are ready to go. We are not afraid of anybody. Really working this season through all the adversity, keeping that slight edge, just keeps us going. We are champing at the bit for everything.”
Benton ends the regular season at 10-7 overall, 4-2 in the Wamac and with wins in seven of its last nine matches. This is the fifth year in a row the Bobcats have posted at least 10 victories in a season.
Benton has eight seniors in its starting lineup and has allowed more than one goal in a match just once this season.
“It is our talk and communication,” senior defender Jacob Thompson said. “We love getting out there and competing and beating all these teams and staying on this journey together.”
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Junior Brady Sadler and senior Jack Shaw each scored their third goals this season via first-half headers for Benton.
CJ Rickels scored his team-high 16th goal in the second half for Vinton-Shellsburg (10-5, 2-4), which has posted double-digit wins for the first time in the eight-year history of the program.
Class 1A No. 16 Benton Community 2, No. 7 Vinton-Shellsburg 1
Goals — BC: Brady Sadler (3), Jack Shaw (3); VS: CJ Rickels (16).
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