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Defense leads the charge

Panthers executing enough on offense to succeed

The Creston Panthers boys soccer team has come a long way as a defensive unit.

A year ago through seven games Creston had yielded 24 goals.

Over the same span in the spring of 2017?

Just six.

“This year is definitely our year,” Creston junior Cole Higgins said. “We’ve gotten so much better than we were last year. We’re just really clicking. “

More than any other aspect of the game, Creston coach Lucian Diaconu was pleased with the second-half defense in Creston’s 2-0 win over Indianola at home Thursday.

The win represented Creston’s second win over Indianola in less than a week.

“Second half we played more defensively,” Diaconu said. “I’m really proud of the second half that defensively, playing against the wind, they weren’t able to score.”

Diaconu noted the critical defensive play of Isaac Wignall and Peres Reed, the latter which moved from the wing to defensive center back.

The unit is jelling better than any of them could have expected, and because of that, the team’s confidence is pushed to full throttle.

“My defense is going to get the job done down there, so whenever we get the job done on offense, that’s when we win games.”

Possessing the ball in the midfield and not surrendering long possession helped the Panthers cut down on Indianola scoring chances.

“We tried to keep them away from our defensive third and that worked well,” Diaconu said.

The nerves that came with playing a 3A school subsided quickly with two first-half Panther goals.

“We just got more focused, Higgins said. “We had a couple jitters in the first half. We just kept with it, kept working hard and got the job done.”

A long ball off the foot of Ben Irr beyond midfield got sent over the head of Creston’s Evan Jacobson. The junior chased the ball down toward the far left end line and played the ball in toward the goal with his left foot to an eagerly awaiting Gavin Woods, who calmly deposited the ball for goal two for the Panthers in the waning seconds of the first half.

It just may have been the easiest finish for Woods in his soccer career for his eighth goal of the season, good for top 10 among all goal scorers in class 1A.

The goal came after one off the head off Irr on a perfectly-executed flip throw from Peres Reed on the assist in the 18th minute of play.

But it was the sequence resulting in Woods’ goal that is likely to stick in the minds of the fans in attendance.

“Ben has great footwork and the way they laid this on the field, starting with the send from Ben and then Evan making that run, it looked beautifully” Diaconu said. “That’s something offensively we’re pretty proud of.”

Payton Pryor was tested in the net only a few times and recorded four saves.

The junior varsity fell 1-0 in 30 minutes of play.

Ayden Filer recorded several saves as keeper.

Diaconu continues to press his junior varsity squad to work on their games, and improve their work rate.

He notes that players like Lee Normandeau could soon contribute to a greater extent on a varsity level.

“He needs to get his work rate a little higher,” Diaconu said. “He has a strong right foot and can kick with the left. Defensively he’s moving pretty good on the field, but we’d like to obtain from him some speed.”

UP NEXT — Creston (5-2, 0-1) heads to Denison-Schleswig (5-2, 1-1) in Hawkeye 10 action today (Friday) for a 6 p.m. contest. The girls team is at Denison as well.

Creston (2) — Goals — Ben Irr 22:00 left first half, Gavin Woods final minute of first half. Shots (on goal) — 17 (8 on goal). Individual shots (on goal)— Irr 5 (3), Woods 4 (4), Jacobson 4 (0), Brenden McDowell 3 (0), Peres Reed 2 (1). Assists — Reed 1, Jacobson 1. Keeper Saves — Payton Pryor 4.

No stats were available for Indianola as of press time

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