It would be hard to top the varsity debut Tristan Peters had Monday night.
In his first varsity game, the Newton sophomore busted open a dead 0-0 tie late in the second half to spark the Cardinals to a 2-0 victory over Oskaloosa at H.A. Lynn Field. Newton has now won four games in a row and remains in control of its own destiny for a Little Hawkeye Conference title.
“We pulled him up from JV and it was obviously a good move for us,” Newton coach Tim Heger said of Peters. “It was really good to have him just step up out of nowhere. He played really well and it was just a good all-around effort by everyone.”
Peters’ eventual heroics grew more and more needed as the game went on, as the Class 2A No. 10 Cardinals (7-2, 4-1) couldn’t capitalize on any scoring opportunities early. Senior Tyler Hansen put the game’s first shot on goal about two minutes in and fellow senior Austin Shores proceeded to pepper Osky’s goalkeeper with shots, but nothing was getting through.
After the Indians managed their one big push of the half, Shores returned the favor with even more shots on goal, including one that ricocheted off the crossbar near the 29-minute mark. However, thanks to Newton’s always tough defense and a few saves from senior keeper James Leonard, the game went to halftime tied at 0-0.
“I don’t really know, sometimes you just get that finishing bug and we had it all night,” Heger said. “We’ll have some games like that, but hopefully it won’t happen anymore.”
Oskaloosa turned the tables and controlled the first few minutes of the second half, including a free kick from just outside the penalty area about 10 minutes in. Multiple shots from Shores and Hansen sailed just high or to the side of the net, and building frustration for both teams turned into jawing and physical play.
It wasn’t until the 15:03 mark of the second half that Peters broke the deadlock. Following a shot, Peters sneaked up the right side and tapped in a rebound just past Osky’s keeper. Although the goal was initially called off by a linesman, he sorted the call out with the referee and gave the Cards the game’s first tally.
Oskaloosa had one final dangerous possession with about 4:30 left in the game, but it came up empty. The Indians controlled the ball deep in Cardinal territory with a flurry of passes, but the trip was cut short by a clearing kick from senior Andrew Clements, who was celebrating an individual Senior Night due to an upcoming track meet on Newton’s regular senior night.
“We always talk about our defense being a strong point, and they just continue to step up and impress,” Heger said. “They keep us in games like this, and they’ve risen above any of the expectations I’ve had for them. I’m very happy with them.”
Shores eventually got the goal he was looking for and put the final nail in the coffin. With just 55 seconds left on the clock, Shores connected on a header for his 11th goal of the season and the Newton faithful were able to rest a little easier in the final seconds.
Although the Cards will take on Southeast Polk for Senior Night on Thursday and travel to Marshalltown on May 13, the stage is set for the season finale against Pella on May May 16. With a victory, Newton will earn at least a share of the conference title.
“It’s completely in our hands at this point,” Heger said. “That game will decide a lot.”