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Rebels reap the rewards

Sophomore’s goal in 71st minute lifts No. 8 Rebels past No. 9 Benton Community

June 7, 2015
ROSS THEDE - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

REINBECK - Be it good fortune or sheer genius, Kirk Dinsdale's personnel swap paid instant dividends.

The reward is a return trip to the state tournament.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck sophomore Erik Knaack scored the game's only goal with 9 minutes, 20 seconds remaining, and the eighth-ranked Rebels edged No. 9 Benton Community 1-0 in the Class 1A Substate 3 finals to secure one of eight spots in next week's Iowa Boys State Soccer Tournament at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.

Article Photos

Gladbrook-Reinbeck goalkeeper Josh Cooley (44) is mobbed by his teammates after helping the Rebels deliver a third consecutive shutout, Saturday’s 1-0 win over Benton Community in the Class 1A Substate 3 championship game in Reinbeck. Cooley had six saves in the match.
Photos by Ross Thede

Knaack, G-R's leading goal scorer, sent a header to the back of an empty net in the 71st minute and propelled the Rebels (14-3) back to state for just the second time in school history, and the first since placing fourth in 2009.

"It's really good to see a group of guys that deserve it get to go," said G-R midfielder Camden Kickbush, one of only three seniors. "It's really a dream come true for all of us."

The dream sequence for Knaack was set up moments earlier, when Dinsdale swapped Kickbush to the back line and moved junior defender Colton Dinsdale up into the attack. Sprinting up the middle of the field in transition, the youngest of coach Dinsdale's three sons caught up to a bouncing ball off the boot of G-R goalie Josh Cooley and beat Benton's keeper Hunter Hermsen to the 50-50 ball.

Dinsdale's sliding attempt just inside the penalty area was deflected by Hermsen, but right into the opportunistic path of Gladbrook-Reinbeck's top scorer. Knaack beat defenseman Jacob Thomas to the rebound and redirected the bouncing ball across the goal line for the 1-0 lead, sending the home half of the blue-clad crowd into a frenzy.

"Josh did a great job kicking and it bounced over one of their defender's heads and Colton was right there and he flicked it and the goalie tipped it up," Knaack said, "and luckily I was right there. Colton and Josh did all the hard work and I was just there to clean it up.

"It was a really good chance. Anytime (Colton) comes up, normally good things will happen."

It was a fortuitous result from an otherwise innocuous personnel move.

"It's nothing that I did, just dumb luck on my part that it worked out really well," coach Dinsdale said. "Right before that play happened, I switched (Colton) and Cam because Cam looked really fatigued to me. And Colt, although he works really hard on the defensive end, I think he's probably got a little more endurance and it was just something we had to do.

"We were at the point where, 'Do we take that chance, push (Colton) up?' or try to get into overtime, go to a shootout? ... (If) you get it into overtime and they happen to sneak a goal in on you, you don't get a second chance. It's over. You want to end it when you can end it, so that's awesome."

Dinsdale's dead sprint up the field seemed like a set play, a Hail Mary of sorts. It resulted in his first credited assist of the year, and Knaack's team-high 12th goal, after the ball bounced over Benton senior defenseman Keaton Sherwood's head.

"I knew Josh had the wind at his back and he can kick the ball really far," Dinsdale said, " and I knew they didn't have the tallest middle defender so I just took a guess that it was going to go over his head. Luckily it did.

"The goalie was coming out, I just tried to tip it but luckily it got a good spin off the goalie and Erik was right there for the head so it just worked out perfectly."

It marked Gladbrook-Reinbeck's second win over the blue-and-gold Bobcats from Benton Community, though somehow in less dramatic fashion than the first. Knaack's header off a Kickbush assist with 13 seconds left beat Benton 2-1 during the Waverly-Shell Rock Tournament on May 9.

"We knew they had a pretty good goalie and their defenders were fast, and they're just an all-around fast team," Knaack said. "It was a really good dogfight out there."

Cooley was credited with six saves and the Rebels racked up their third consecutive shutout victory, preventing a streak of substate final defeats after losses to Waterloo Columbus in 2013 and Clear Lake last spring.

The Bobcats (16-5) were in search of their first state tournament berth. With the wind at its back, Benton generated three legitimate scoring chances in the first half but came up empty each time. Jaret Roe's hard-hit left-footer was right at Cooley's feet, and Adison Steinford's blast sailed over the crossbar. Andrew Enderle's short-angle shot in the 23rd minute clanged off the corner of the cage.

Even Evan Moeller's free kick from 25 yards was redirected wide of the net by the wall of Rebel defenders.

"Give Gladbrook-Reinbeck credit, they had their opportunities and they took it," said Benton coach Shawn Steffen. "I felt like we were still controlling the match, still possessing the ball like we wanted to. We just didn't take advantage of it.

"The boys worked so hard all season to get to state, that's the hardest part was to see they wanted to go. It would have been the first time for us to get that far and I wish we could have done it, but I'm happy for Gladbrook-Reinbeck. They'll do well, hopefully they make a deep run."

The Rebels pulled back into a defensive shell for the final 9:20 of the match, absorbing Benton's attack at the midfield and sending long passes back up the pitch. G-R freshman Walker Thede almost iced the match with an insurance goal in the 77th minute, but his bending right-footer curled just wide of the net.

Bennett Petersen nearly put the Rebels ahead at the midpoint of the second half, hot-wiring a right-footed shot toward the upper 90 before Hermsen's lunging save knocked it off line. Hermsen made nine saves on the day - a number of them of the spectacular variety - but the Bobcats never truly threatened Cooley after the intermission.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck will open the Class 1A portion of the Iowa Boys State Soccer Tournament on Thursday as the No. 4 seed, facing fifth-seeded Des Moines Christian at 12:15 p.m. on Field 7 at Cownie. The 10th-ranked Lions (13-3) posted a 4-0 win over No. 13 West Central Valley to advance to state for the second consecutive year, avenging a 1-0 loss to the Wildcats from earlier in the season.

This was only the second shutout loss of the season for Benton, which was blanked 2-0 by Class 2A No. 16 South Tama County/East Marshall on May 1 in Van Horne. STC/EM qualified for the state tournament as well. ... Saturday's win was the eighth shutout in G-R's favor this spring, and the Rebels' fifth consecutive victory. ... Of Gladbrook-Reinbeck's three defeats this season, two were to state tournament teams. No. 7 Gilbert (15-2) is the third seed in 1A, while No. 3 Waverly-Shell Rock is seeded sixth in the 2A field.



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