SOLON — There is a saying that the best defense is a good offense.
The Iowa Mennonite School boys soccer team were the embodiment of that saying Wednesday in a Class 1A Substate 6 1-0 triumph against Clarke of Osceola.
IMS, ranked in a tie for 16th in the final poll of the Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association, scored on a set piece when Cody Jones blasted a corner kick into a mass of bodies where Brian Maren leaped and headed the ball towards the goal. It clinked the bar and went into the goal for the only score of the match with 13 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the first half.
“I am good at getting headers, so I just wanted to get my head on the ball and it went into the goal,” Maren said. “It worked because I saw it coming and I timed my jump at it just right. It was a nice goal for us.”
IMS lost forward Louis Etienne to a leg injury with 2:14 remaining in the first half.
“The physical therapist wants Louis to get checked out tomorrow and she said hopefully he can play Saturday,” IMS coach Marcus Miller said. “He heals pretty quick. Even if he can’t go at forward, he has helped us at other places on the field. He makes us a much better team when he is out there.”
The game to go to state for IMS will be in Solon Saturday at noon against No. 7 Solon, a 4-0 winner over Pella Christian in the second match Wednesday at Solon.
“It was fortunate that we scored on that corner kick to take the lead,” Miller said. “I felt like we were just hanging on. (Clarke is) a good team. They are a quality team.”
Miller adjusted his formation at halftime to a more defensive set, yet IMS clearly led in time of possession with the ball on its offensive side of the field a majority of the latter half.
“We switched to a 4-5-1 formation, so basically we pull the forward to the defensive side,” Miller said. “We had two defensive mids and we tried to bottle things up as much as we could. I didn’t check out this team, so I hadn’t seen them, but after watching them in the first half and what they tried to do, I thought having two defensive mids in there would work for us. Fortunately it worked and we hung on.”
Playing a different formation and without the team’s leading scorer, IMS rotated players in to keep them fresh.
“I have to give a big shout out to some of the kids that came off the bench and played really well,” Miller said.
Drew Blauveldt stepped up big when asked to do more.
“Drew just had a phenomenal game,” Miller said. “He hustled his butt off. He put a lot of pressure on even though we didn’t score. He did exactly what we asked him to do.”
right we will have one of my assistant coaches stay and watch because the boys want to get home. It’s finals week for the seniors. Sometimes you got a watch out for the health of the kids.
“It felt really good to win,” Blauveldt said. “We have played with Louis out a couple times when he was injured so we knew how to adjust. After the first half, we wanted to possess it more and with Louis out, we knew we had to possess it more. We were able to find the open spaces and keep the pressure on.”
IMS now has a record of 11-4. Solon is 14-6.
“It is always hard for me to pull a forward and just play with one forward,” Miller said. “If the ball is not in your offensive end, you are not going to get goals.”
IMS had all the goals it needed because of the superb way it played defense in the second half.
“It is an old Dutch saying, it is a good soccer saying, too,” Miller said, “the best defense is a good offense.”