Tigers unable to upset No. 3 Tornadoes
STORM LAKE — Spencer’s soccer boys knew it would take their greatest performance of the season to pull off the upset of No. 3-ranked Storm Lake in the substate final at Buena Vista University Saturday night. In many ways, the clash of rivals went exactly the way the Tigers wanted, but a couple of slight miscues in the first half put the purple and gold in an inescapable hole as the Tornadoes punched their ticket to state with a 4-1 win.
“The boys played extremely well. We had a gameplan in place, and the boys executed the gameplan. Aydan Perez did a fantastic job staying with Storm Lake’s best player and really took him out of the game,” Spencer boys soccer coach Nick Erdmann said. “Our goal was to force the rest of them to beat us and take advantage of our set pieces. That’s how we got our goal. Our defense just made two mistakes in the first half, and that was the difference.”
Those two mistakes led to a 2-0 score at halftime, but the Tigers weren’t done yet.
Cris Miller took advantage of a loose ball following a free kick, finding the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game with just under 23 minutes left in regulation.
Spencer was forced to abandon its approach as regulation drew to a close, attacking the Tornadoes with hopes of finding the equalizer.
“I could not be more proud of the boys. They played their hearts out,” Erdmann said. “They hung with one of the best teams in the state, and we executed our gameplan the way we wanted to. Storm Lake didn’t get those last two goals at the end until we started pushing people forward.”
Storm Lake took advantage in the Tiger cracks late in the game to make it a 4-1 final.
Despite being ranked third and having just one loss this season, to No. 2-ranked Bishop Heelan by a score of 1-0, the Tornadoes received the No. 7 seed in the eight team state tournament, putting them up against No. 2-seeded Norwalk in the quarterfinals on Thursday at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
Spencer’s boys finish their first season under Erdmann’s direction with a record of 13-7 having won five of their last six games.
“I think it was a hugely successful season. We ended up bringing in seven new starters, including four foreign-exchange students, and it’s tough to bring that many players together and get them to really jell. By the end of the season I thought we were playing our best soccer,” Erdmann said. “The boys put the work in, and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort that they showed.”