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Cardinals clip GC/G-R’s wings

Rebels’ state streak stopped by GHV

June 4, 2017
Stephen Koenigsfeld - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

REINBECK - Seniors Erik Knaack and Thomas Mussig, along with the rest of the Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys' soccer team, are going to be searching endlessly for the answer to why the goals eluded them as much as they did in the season-ending, 3-1 loss to Garner-Hayfield-Ventura on Saturday in Class 1A Substate 2 action.

The defeat ends the season for the Rebels (9-7) who were seeking their third-straight state tournament berth. However, those hopes were dashed as the Rebels only found the back of the goal once, an equalizer by Walker Thede in the 26th minute.

"These seniors had an incredible four years," said GC/G-R head coach Jon Dinsdale. "State in soccer twice, football three times, basketball a couple times. How do you replace that? You don't. But Garner came out to play today. They were a little more aggressive than we were, they won the 50/50 balls and they took their opportunities when they had to, and we had our opportunities, but we just didn't finish on them."

The Cardinals (9-6) scored in the first minute of the game on a rebound by Colton Schroeder. Knaack came knocking back, taking a strike that missed just a few inches wide of the goal, sending a shiver down the Cardinals' fans. The misfire seemed insignificant at the time, but it was only a precursor of what was to come.

At halftime, G-H-V head coach Eric Williams could be heard talking about Knaack and his ball handling skills and ability to make anyone miss. Time and time again, defenders would mark up on GC/G-R corner kicks, and would ask, "Who's got big haus? Who's got the other big haus?" in reference to the Rebels' big men, Mussig and Mason Skovgard. Despite going up early, no respect was lost for the Rebels by the Cardinals by any means.

And the Rebels did their best to live up to the veneration. But as they continued to fire shots, the frustration of missing grew.

As a team, GC/G-R took 23 shots, but landed just 11 on goal. More than half of those either hit the cross bar or were just outside the goal.

When the final horn sounded, it wasn't just on the season or hopes of another state tournament berth. It was a vocal signal to the conclusion of careers in the royal blue and silver.

"What makes it so emotional is we've had a lot of wins, a lot of success, but what hurts so much is missing being with the guys," Mussig said. "I don't even know how many games are in a season, but we wanted those extra games so we could be with the guys three more times. That's why it hurts so bad."

The tears were as real as the loss, and the abrupt ending didn't make it any easier to swallow for seniors and returners alike. After Thede's goal evened things up in the first half, the score was knotted at the break.

For another 10 minutes after halftime, both teams put pressure on opposing goalkeepers. Senior Parker Bown recorded 15 saves for the Rebels on the Cardinals 18 shots on goal. Nick Joynt was nearly perfect for G-H-V, as he had 10 saves on 11 GC/G-R shots on goal.

But in the 52nd and 55th minutes, the Cardinal attack was too much for Bown and the Rebels' defenders, as Jonah Albertson and Connor Burke each found goals assisted by Jared Graham and Schroeder, respectively, to give the go-ahead 3-1 lead.

With ample time, the Rebels just couldn't find the pieces needed to equalize again. Knaack had a header skim off the top of his head. With Joynt out of position trying to challenge Knaack, the goal was left open. But Eli Thede was just far enough way for the ball to trickle out for a goal kick.

It was those kinds of misfortunes that found the Rebels in dire straits. Unable to connect, the Cardinals threw the last punch.

"Five or 10 years down the road these seniors will have memories they can tell for hours and hours, about what they experienced," Dinsdale said. "And I wish I had one more memory for them, I really do."

The Cardinals are the No. 6 in next week's Class 1A state tournament. They'll take on No. 3 Davenport Assumption at 12:05 p.m. on Thursday.



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