Tigers slide by Monarchs, advance with 4-1 win
Substate final set: Spencer vs. Storm Lake on Saturday
Ranked No. 1 and undefeated, the Spencer boys took care of its first order of business on its path to a state championship Wednesday night. As misting rain fell throughout the 2A Substate semifinal, Spencer controlled the game and advanced with a 4-1 win over Denison-Schleswig at the Spencer Soccerplex.
The Tigers will play Storm Lake (12-1) in the Substate final on Saturday, May 25 at noon in Spencer for the right to go to the state tournament.
Denison advanced to the semifinal after knocking off Heelan, 2-0, and were winners of six games in a row. The Tigers got off to a fairly quick start to halt any momentum the Monarchs may have had entering the game by scoring in the ninth minute of a Hunter Cushman corner kick, which was deflected in by Tanner Viedenkamp to give Spencer the 1-0 lead.
Spencer (15-0) added two more first half goals to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Zach Vanderah scored the Tigers' second goal midway through the first half, and Hunter Cushman blasted a shot from the top of the box that went through the hands of Denison keeper Leovardo Luna for the third goal of the half.
"I thought we were comfortable throughout the game," head coach Ben MacRae said. "Some of our first touches could have been better. Some of the passing was good but the field was so slick our first touch had to be very good. We adapted to the conditions pretty good. There were some great attacks out there."
The ball skipped and slid off the wet grass at an increased rate as the light rain continued from start to finish. Spencer took advantage of the slick ball by pounding as many shots as they could at Luna in goal, who couldn't handle two of the first three goals.
Denison would strike right back as they got on the board less than a minute after Cushman's goal, on a free kick with just over a minute left in the half to make the match 3-1 at intermission.
There was little offensive action in the second half as Spencer controlled the game and focused on its defense. One of the offensive attacks produced the fourth goal for the Tigers, when Vanderah fed the ball to Viedenkamp, who drilled home his second goal of the game into the upper-left corner of the net.
The win puts the Tigers up against Storm Lake, a team they needed two overtimes and a shootout to beat back on May 6 in Spencer, 2-1. Storm Lake ended the regular season No. 6 in the coaches poll and beat Spirit Lake Park-Okoboji, 6-4, on Wednesday night to advance. The Tornadoes trailed 3-0 before coming back on the Indians.
"We're absolutely looking forward to it," MacRae said of Saturday's game. "I don't think there will be a lot of goals in the game, certainly not a 6-4 score. Our passing and first touches will have to be better than tonight. We'll need to settle into the game early and adapt to the game's conditions. If we settle in early, we'll be fine."
1, Tanner Viedenkamp, Spencer, 9th minute (Cushman). 2, Zach Vanderah, Spencer, 24th minute. 3, Hunter Cushman, Spencer, 38th minute. 4, Anibal Aguilar, Denison, 39th minute.
5, Tanner Viedenkamp, Spencer, 70th minute (Vanderah).