Hard luck week for Tornado girls soccer
Despite last week's 6-2 trouncing of Spirit Lake, the Storm Lake girls' soccer team was unable to keep the momentum going as they fell to Spencer 6-0 Thursday and Unity Christian 5-0 on Monday.
At practice Tuesday, the players could only shake their heads - they are playing some of their best soccer of the season at times, but it isn't showing on the scoreboards.
The Tornadoes fell behind early in the first half when Spencer's wing picked the ball out of the air and blasted it in for the first score. Ten minutes later, Unity Christian struck again in quick succession with three goals off outside shots - all within a three-minute span. The Tornadoes tried to recover, but the damage was done.
"We played right with them for about 60 of the 80 minutes, but for those 20 minutes we just got outplayed - and 10 of those 20 minutes were in driving rain," Storm Lake head coach Ray Wiederholt said. For Wiederholt, as well as his players, it has been a difficult season. His daughter, Aspen, recently underwent heart surgery. According to Wiederholt, Aspen is recovering and hopefully will be a force to be reckoned with on Alta's golf greens within the next few years.
Emotions were also high as the Spencer girls were playing in memory of Rick Kaiser, the girls' JV coach who passed away from cancer on April 20.
"It was a tough night for Spencer. They were playing for something extra," Wiederholt said.
The Storm Lake coach was impressed. "Spencer is the best unranked team in the state of Iowa," Wiederholt said.
After facing the tough Tiger team, the Tornadoes were handed another setback by Unity Christian Knights on Monday. Again, Storm Lake played well for most of the contest. The Tornado defense lost its shape at moments, and was spread apart more than necessary, which opened up passing lanes and made it easier for Unity to tap in two goals on rebounds and another on a breakaway.
"We've made leaps and bounds since the beginning of the year. We had some great scoring chances but were unable to capitalize on them," Wiederholt said. "And our defense was not as compact as it could have been, so they couldn't help each other as much as they could have if they had been closer."
Storm Lake had nine shots on goal and some good scoring opportunities that they were unable to finish. However, the team has a few new drills that should shore up the defense as the team prepares for tonight's varsity game hosting Western Christian at 5 p.m. (The JV was canceled due to conflicts for several WC players.) Storm Lake beat Western Christian 1-0 last time they faced each other, so the game, which is Parents' Night, shapes up to be a good test, the coach said. The Tornadoes are now 2-4 in the Lakes Conference.
SL boys in tight action on the road
The Storm Lake boys soccer program has had to play as road warriors all spring, with only five games scheduled on their turf all season, coach Julio Zeledon says. This past week's travels have produced some of the season's most competitive action.
Storm Lake pushed in a gorgeous late goal drive to beat Spirit Lake Thursday. Marcos Zavala had put the Tornadoes on the board early, but an aggressive Spirit Lake team answered. At the 40 minute mark in the second half, Jose Zavala fired a long pass to brother Marcos, who dropped the ball off neatly to Dak Ngut at the left side of the box for a textbook goal and the 2-1 win.
On Monday Storm Lake locked in a battle of wills at Unity Christian, despite being short handed most of the game after a player was red-carded for improper language early on.
Unity scored first, but Marcos Zavala answered quickly for Storm Lake. Both teams showed great defense for most of the hard-fought contest, but the numbers game caught up to the 10 playing for the green and white, and Unity pushed through a second goal. Jose Zavala then managed a late goal for Storm Lake to tie it at 2-2.
The two teams fought up and down the field through two 10-minute overtime periods with neither team able to penetrate the other's defense.
In a penalty kick situation to finally break the tie, Unity knocked in three kicks to two for Storm Lake to claim the win.
The Tornadoes are back in action tonight, visiting Western Christian, and then travel to Carroll on Tuesday. Their home finale will be May 8 against Spirit Lake.