Even though the Dallas Center-Grimes boys’ soccer team didn’t get the chance to end off their home schedule with a win in a 4-0 shutout loss to Norwalk Tuesday night, it was but a mere tiny blemish in what has been a fantastic 2019 campaign.
The loss set the Mustangs back just a bit while ultimately staring at a 12-4 overall record for the season. Despite having just three shots on goal throughout 30 minutes of second half action on Tuesday, the Mustangs overall have been quite dominant in the shooting department, averaging just over two goals scored per game while averaging just over seven shots on goal per contest. DC-G’s 83 total points on the season ranks third in the conference while their 34 total goals scored on the season rank them second inside the Little Hawkeye Conference, second only to Grinnell with 39. The Mustang offense has produced eight shutout wins for the 2019, the most within the Little Hawkeye Conference.
Spearheaded by returning All-Conference goalkeeper Brennon Woody, the Mustangs have built an even stronger foundation defensively, a foundation that has allowed less than one goal per contest while averaging just over five saves per game. Woody himself has 81 total saves on the season, averaging five saves per game, second best within the Little Hawkeye Conference. Ultimately, the Mustang defense has given up more than one goal just three times all season long
The Mustangs officially collected a 12 or more win season for the third time in the past four seasons as they look to make it a second straight trip to the state tournament. Such a winning feat almost seemed out of reach for the 2019 Mustang squad. Before the season began the Mustangs had to reload from the loss of 13 seniors and leading scorer Tucker Kiley due to early graduation. That, not to mention the temporary loss of current senior Rancy Freeman who has been struggling with an ankle injury this season and has bounced between soccer and track all season. Then the Mustangs come along and rattle off a 5-2 record to begin the season en route to just four losses on their record books all season up to this point. DC-G has been quite the turnaround from the pre-season expectations and something that head coach Collin Lane spoke about.
“You always look optimistically on the season but ultimately it’s about how or if you can put all the pieces together for a strong season and that was a big question mark before the season,” said head coach Collin Lane. “The big question was how would our defense hold up but with Brennon being so dominant in front of the net, we’ve been able to build around him and not let any slip ups cost us. We’ve had a goal of less than one goal allowed per season and we’ve achieved that and that’s because we’ve limited the exposure of our inexperience. Overall we’ve really come together well as a team and do a very good job of communicating on the field which can sometimes be different than simply communicating with someone one on one.”
The Mustangs have been nearly as strong offensively as they were last year in their state tournament bound season and a lot of that has to do with coach Lane in his first few seasons leading the charge for DC-G. Despite how well overall the Mustangs have been doing this season, it’s still been a surging second half that all boils down to a few key pieces according to DC-G’s leading scorer Noah Webster.
“It all starts with practices and we’ve had great practices this season thanks to coach Lane,” began Webster. “At the beginning of the season with how young we are we were working in the middle of the field too much. Then almost halfway through the season coach took us through some different drills that we hadn’t worked with much before. From that we’ve really spread the field a lot and kept teams frustrated which is what happened at Pella and is ultimately the goal for an offense.”
Although the Mustangs did not get to reclaim their conference crown, they still have put on quite a season and because of that, they have a first round bye in the postseason for the second consecutive year which is a great feeling as expressed by All-Conference goalkeeper and future Wartburg star Brennon Woody.
“It’s a great feeling, almost a relaxing feeling knowing that no matter what, we’re home in the comforts of our stadium with our fans to support us,” began Woody. “It should just give us that much more confidence. We still need to put in the work to get to state but at least we don’t have to travel.”
The Mustangs will take on their first postseason action on Wednesday, May 22 against the winner of the Winterset and Carlisle match-up. The Mustangs will have the chance to play Winterset to round out their regular season schedule on Thursday, May 16 which brings about a possible rematch in the second round, something coach Lane spoke about earlier this week.
“We try not to speculate as we just have to worry about taking it one game at a time but if we do see them again in the postseason then it would be nice knowing that we’ve not just played them already, but played them so recently,” said Lane. “It’s easier to dive over what we saw and how they operate that way. Ultimately no matter what, we have to go out there and play one of our best matches of the season because we know that whoever we play will do the same.”
Once again, after the Mustangs wrap up their regular season, they will have a first round bye with their first match of the postseason coming on Wednesday, May 22.