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Rebels take a step up

Gladbrook-Reinbeck outscores Council Bluffs St. Albert 4-3 for third place

June 14, 2015
TYLER STRAND - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

DES MOINES - The Falcons' opening-minute goal not only got the Rebels' attention. It unleashed one of their finest offensive outings of the season.

Netting more goals than it had scored in its previous three postseason games combined, Gladbrook-Reinbeck rallied past Council Bluffs St. Albert for a 4-3 triumph in Saturday's third-place match of the Class 1A Iowa Boys' State Soccer Tournament at Cownie Soccer Complex.

Freshman Walker Thede scored twice, Erik Knaack added another and Camden Kickbush tallied what proved to be the winning goal in the 54th minute as the eighth-ranked Rebels (17-4) held on to reach the program's best finish in school history.

"It's a great group of guys I'm with and it's good to end the season on a win with these guys," said Kickbush, one of three seniors on the squad. "Only six teams in the state get to end on a win and I know it's not the game we wanted to win but it's still good. Third place is still special for us."

Less than nine minutes after Thede's second score gave the Rebels their first lead of the match, Kickbush's goal stretched G-R's advantage to 4-2 and put the second-seeded Falcons (15-6) in desperation mode. Playing against a stiff breeze through the final half, St. Albert pulled back within one with 13:25 to play as Rodrigo Barajas struck after a quick reset following a Rebel foul.

Josh Cooley didn't let anything past him the rest of the way and made eight saves to help G-R improve one spot from its only other state appearance in 2009.

The finish left the Rebels satisfied, but the beginning put them in a quick hole.

The 11th-ranked Falcons served G-R an immediate wake-up call 37 seconds into the match when Charlie Donaldson blasted a ball into the upper left netting.

"I thought we had a pretty good pre-game talk and our regular routine looked pretty sharp," G-R coach Kirk Dinsdale said. "And then all of a sudden the whistle blew and I think we fell asleep. I don't know what happened but fortunately we woke up.

"They stepped up today and got it done, what a group of kids."

Less than five minutes later, Dinsdale's son, Colton, launched a long throw-in that Kickbush headed over to Knaack who finished it off with a header of his own into the upper 90 to tie it at 1-all.

Gage Bowman reclaimed the lead for St. Albert by slipping one into the lower left netting in the 15th. The seesaw battle continued when Knaack lofted a cross to Colton Dinsdale, whose header stopped just short of the goal line before Thede came racing in unimpeded from the left for the equalizer.

G-R made the most of its 14 shots with half of them going on target as they stayed on the same page to create more chances around the net.

"We really talked a lot better today and communicated on where the ball was going to be and where we want it to be at," Thede said. "And those ones that we got right where we wanted it, we were able to put it in the net."

The Rebels continued the forward momentum in the second half as Nicholas Strickler flicked a pass to Thede for his second goal from the left side in the 46th. Three wouldn't be enough though and G-R added some insurance when Thomas Mussig centered the ball of his weaker foot to Kickbush who ripped a shot past St. Albert keeper Kyle Barnes.

"Thomas doesn't believe in his left foot really and then that one actually came with his left," Kickbush said. "He got a great pass with his left, he did all the work and I just did the easy stuff. I just tried to put it in."

The Falcons started firing more frequently including a long distance bomb that Cooley just barely punched over the crossbar for a corner kick. Making its eighth state tourney appearance, St. Albert reeled the Rebels back within a score on Barajas' quick attack in the 67th but G-R's defense locked down from there.

The wheels finally came off the Falcons' drive for a comeback with 59 seconds left when defender Martin Shudak was written up for a yellow card following a hard tackle and the senior picked up a red moments later when he threw up his hands at the head official in disgust.

St. Albert attempted 18 shots and 11 on goal but couldn't cash in on several great looks after a fast start.

"We missed a couple opportunities," St. Albert coach Tom Lorkovic said. "We always set up our two-minute drill at the start of the game and it's worked three or four times for us this year and it worked today. Sometimes it's counterproductive to score right away like that because kids have a tendency to let down but we came out and kept playing.

"Our kids never quit, we got one with 13 minutes left and there's still plenty of time but circumstances kind of overwhelmed us."

G-R sent its three seniors - Kickbush, Bennett Petersen and Vasya Strohbehn - out with a win and provided a promising preview for the future of the program.

"We really wanted to do that for them," Thede said. "We're losing three seniors but we're bringing a lot of guys back and I know there's going to be a couple of talented guys coming up next year too. We're going to have a pretty talented team these next couple years."



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