WAPELLO, Iowa – The strategy became clear for the Wapello boys soccer team when the Indians realized Highland was one man down in Tuesday’s matchup.
Press up, attack early and attack often.
Wapello did just that, scoring a goal in the opening minute and never looking back in a 5-0 victory.
“I think we played really good,” sophomore Hector Zepada said. “We were passing the ball really well.”
The Indians (2-5) had dropped four consecutive games entering Tuesday, with three of those coming by at least a four-goal margin.
So, when junior Morgan Grimm intercepted a pass in the Highland box and launched a goal over the Huskies’ goalie in the opening minute, it was a welcome sight.
“(It) most definitely gets them going in the right direction,” Wapello coach Cari Cline said. “I told them to keep that pressure up and do what you have to do.”
Over the next 15 minutes, however, play was fairly even between the two teams, with both earning multiple shots on goal. The Indians locked down for the remainder of the first half and in the second once regular starters Jacob Ewart and James Wykert, Wapello’s goalie, arrived from an FFA convention.
In the meantime, Zepada sparked Wapello’s offense and put the game out of reach with two goals in the first half. The first came in the 19th minute after stealing a pass in Highland’s box and converting a routine goal. The second came just four minutes later when sophomore Christopher Ewart’s through ball gave Zepada a one-on-one against Highland’s goalie, which he converted.
“That was chemistry,” Zepada said of Christopher Ewart finding him open for the goal. “We’ve been playing together since junior high and he’s a really good soccer player. He was able to see me and passed the ball.”
Most importantly, Cline was pleased with the number of shots Zepada took even if she holds out hope he will attempt more. She noted that Zepada, as well as the rest of the Wapello players, have a tendency of over-passing and waiting too long to take shots.
That wasn’t a problem Tuesday, as the Indians finished with 19 shots on goal thanks to quick, crisp passing. Their fourth goal, which came in the 41st minute, was exactly what Cline hopes to see more of. Junior Garrett Beeding drilled a goal from almost outside of the box to give Wapello a commanding 4-0 lead.
“Those quick passes were key for them,” Cline said. “They like to keep ahold of (the ball) a little too long sometimes and not play as a team. I think today they played as a team.”
Wapello finished the game just as it started, as junior Alex Earnest snuck a shot inside the left post for a goal in the closing seconds for the cherry on top of a 5-0 win.
Now, just seven games into the season, Wapello has already equaled last season’s win total with two victories. Even though Wapello was outscored 26-4 in its previous four losses, Cline says she’s seen improvement each time her team steps onto the field, even if it doesn’t always show on the scoreboard.
It showed on Tuesday, though, as Wapello poured in a season-high five goals.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Cline said. “We graduate three seniors this year so we still have a pretty young crew. I think taking those small steps and building up is what we need to do.
“We’re getting there.”