Zach Jensen has coached a Newton boys soccer team to the state tournament. He’s had multiple double-digit win seasons in his tenure as Cardinals head coach.
But his team’s performance Thursday night against Class 3A Marshalltown was the best soccer he’s seen in the five years he’s been at the school.
Unfortunately, the end result was a 2-0 loss to the Bobcats at H.A. Lynn Field.
“In terms of how the game should be played, that is how the game should be played,” Jensen said. “That’s the best soccer we’ve played as a team in my five years here.”
The Cardinals (0-1) out-possessed the Bobcats. They had a 17-10 advantage in shots. And an 11-5 surplus in shots on goals. Newton also took four more corner kicks in the match.
The loss though came because the Cardinals just couldn’t find the back of the net in the scoring third of the field.
“It’s OK to be disappointed because I think the wrong team won today,” Jensen said. “That’s the cruel thing about soccer. You can out-possess a team. You can out-shoot a team. You can have all the stats, but if you don’t put your opportunities away, this is what happens. They put their two opportunities away and that’s the game.”
The match was scoreless at halftime. But Marshalltown scored 28 seconds into the second half off the foot of Richard Toe to grab the advantage and then added a second goal off a penalty kick by Fernando Garcia in the 69th minute to essentially seal the win.
Newton controlled the first half despite a scoreless 40 minutes. It had a 10-4 advantage in shots and an 8-2 advantage in shots on goal. The Cardinals also took five corner kicks to Marshalltown’s one.
“We kept fighting. We kept playing our game. But it came down to execution and we didn’t execute in the final third of the field,” Jensen said. “The shots we took were not kicked hard enough. We didn’t make the goalie work too hard. We need to mix it up.”
On the flip side, Newton goalkeeper Caleb Lawson didn’t have a lot of action at his end but he made a diving stop in the 17th minute to keep it scoreless.
In the 29th minute, Lawson left an open net to charge the ball, but Marshalltown (1-0) was denied when Cody Klein made a kick save in front of the goal.
Klein was one of three freshmen who started in the defensive backfield for Newton, joining Nate Lampe and Christian Lawson.
“The defense was great. They worked their butt off. And all of them played the entire match except when Breyton (Schwenker) came out after his yellow card,” Jensen said.
Marshalltown narrowed the gap in the second half on the field. Newton held a 7-6 advantage in shots but both teams had three shots on goal and two corner kicks.
Jensen was bummed about the loss but encouraged by the way his team played.
“That’s how it goes. I am super proud of them though,” Jensen said. “If we keep playing this way, and focus on the long term down the road, we’ll be in good shape.”
Notes: Two of Newton’s most experienced players, Josh Meyer and Hunter Kennedy, did not start the match. Meyer was just released from his injury that day and Kennedy had missed the previous two days of practice because of an illness. “I probably played Josh too much because of the competitor in me,” Jensen said. “We want to ease him back in. He just needs to get into game shape now that he’s been released.” … Marshalltown is now 8-2 all-time against Newton, according to ia.varsitybound.com. The Bobcats have won three straight in the series. … Both teams were issued a yellow card in the match. Newton’s Breyton Schwenker got his in the 9th minute, while Marshalltown’s Gael Rincon was flagged in the 71st minute.