VAN HORNE — Injuries produced a lackluster win-loss record.
Now, the Williamsburg Raiders are healthy and replete with players who know how to win in the postseason.
“Now we finally have everyone,” Williamsburg junior midfielder Matthew Cronquist said after the Raiders defeated No. 16 Benton Community, 1-0, in a Class 1A substate quarterfinal Monday in Van Horne. “At one point, we only had 16 guys healthy during the season. That was a real blow for us. But now we’re excited. We have got a game under our belt as one team now. We are just going to get to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, come out firing. We’re excited. Very excited.”
Cronquist — a first team all-state selection last season — scored the only goal of the game off a Leighton Jones assist in the fourth minute. Despite playing in just 10 matches this season with his own injury trouble, Cronquist leads Williamsburg and ranks 16th in 1A with 20 goals this season.
“He has really had a great year,” Williamsburg Coach Ryan Sauser said. “He has done a nice job of stepping up and being a leader on the team. I think you have seen the maturity in both him on and off the field just in a way that helps pull the team together.”
Williamsburg (7-8) returned nearly 85 percent of the goal scorers from last year’s team that won 14 matches and reached the 1A state semifinals in the first state-tournament appearance in school history. After Cronquist, senior Josiah Zollinger has 10 goals and nine assists, while two-time all-Wamac senior forward Zach Litwiller has produced seven goals and seven assists.
“We have a strong core from last year,” Cronquist said. “Most of us have the experience. We want to take that and bring up the younger guys and nurture them into that competitive spirit and realize that you have four chances to go. You have to make the most of it.”
Williamsburg will play again Wednesday in a 1A substate semifinal at No. 2 Iowa City Regina (12-6), winner of seven of the last 10 state titles, including the last two.
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“We are going to respect Regina, but not to the point to where we don’t play our game,” Cronquist said. “We want to play our game, They are a great opponent. They are phenomenal. ... We know they are a hard opponent, but we know we can make them play our game. We just have to come out as Williamsburg.”
Benton ended its season at 10-8.
The Van Horne doubleheader opened with an impressive 10-0 victory for No. 9 South Tama against Mid-Prairie, which is receiving votes in the latest Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings.
South Tama senior Jonathan Castrejon scored four goals and now has 40 this season, which ranks third in the state across all classes. Junior teammate Osmar Galves recorded a hat trick with three goals of his own.
The Trojans (12-5) will visit No. 7 Vinton-Shellsburg (11-7) in a substate semifinal on Wednesday. The Hawks bowed out at 9-4.
Class 1A substate semifinals
AT VAN HORNE
No. 9 South Tama 10, Mid-Prairie 0
Goals — Jonathan Castrejon 4 (40), Osmar Galvez 3 (7), Roger Flores (4), Tony Nunez (2), Jorge Garcia (1).
Williamsburg 1, No. 16 Benton Community 0
Goal — Matthew Cronquist (20). Assist — Leighton Jones (3).
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