DES MOINES — Waverly-Shell Rock scored three times in the first half to overwhelm A-D-M 3-1 at the Class 2A state soccer tournament here on May 30.
The trip was the Tigers’ fifth overall, and fourth in the last five seasons. They finished fourth in 2012, capturing their first state victory in school history.
"It wasn’t quite how we wanted it to be," said coach Bill Shields, whose team finished the season 13-10. "The second half, obviously, we played really well, but we made too many defensive mistakes in the first half and it was difficult to come back."
The Go-Hawks, who went on to finish third, pushed across a goal in just the fourth minute on the first of two scores by Isaiah Mundell. The W-SR junior added a second, 11 minutes later, on a feed from teammate Tyler Hughes.
"It makes a big difference," Shields said of the early goals. "One of the strengths we had in the substate run was that we played well in the first half of all three of those games, and didn’t let the opponents get the initiative and that makes it easier.
"You can come back and we almost did here — I thought we outplayed them quite considerably in the second half — we just didn’t have enough time or create enough chances."
The Go-Hawks added a third goal with minutes left in the first half by Tanner Hanks. The Tigers, meanwhile, struggled to put together scoring chances and found it difficult to break through W-SR’s back line.
"Our strength is to use the width of the field, and we didn’t play to our strengths as much as we have in other games," Shields said. "It’s more difficult to create chances if you go down the center, and their better defenders were in the middle."
Jake Hutzell accounted for A-D-M’s lone goal, corraling a deflect shot and smartly sending a strike from the top of the box into the upper left corner of the goal.
A-D-M reached the state tournament for the third consecutive season. The team beat Harlan at home, then notched big road victories at Dallas Center-Grimes and Glenwood for the chance to return to the Cownie Soccer Complex on the east side of Des Moines.
The Tigers started the season 5-2, but lost seven of their next eight games. They rebounded with a 2-0 victory at Bondurant-Farrar on May 9, the start of a seven-game winning streak that carried the team back to state.
"We had that nadir in the middle of the season where we weren’t playing well and things weren’t going for us," Shields said. "They could’ve quit, but we won seven games in a row."
The school chartered a bus for the lengthy trip west to Glenwood and the Tigers nabbed a 3-0 victory despite getting outshot 20-9.
That resiliency is what Shields will remember most about this year’s team.
"The determination and will to win," he said. "We have a mindset on the squad that it’s more of an expectation: We expect to go to state."