MEDIAPOLIS – The Brazilian national soccer team calls soccer “the beautiful game”.
While the Notre Dame-West Burlington High School boys’ soccer team certainly doesn’t compare to multiple world champions Brazil, the game the Nikes played in Thursday’s 8-0 win over Mediapolis was certainly a thing of beauty.
The 10th-ranked Nikes looked like the defending Class 1A champions against 13th-ranked Mediapolis, scoring four goals in each half and using a fast, sharp passing game to wear down the young Bulldogs at the Mediapolis Athletic Complex.
That night, the Nikes played their own version of “The Beautiful Game.”
“You have to tire the other team. We do it so we don’t have to work so hard. Making those passes helps us work less,” said Notre Dame-West Burlington senior midfielder Parker Davis, who scored three goals and had three assists. “It’s better than last year, if I’m being honest. We had so many times where we were one-on-one with the goalkeeper, then pass to the side and let someone else finish it off. It’s the perfect way to play.”
“There were times when we looked really good and we talked about that,” said Notre Dame-West Burlington head coach John Wagner. “I was just trying to pass the ball and not be so direct. It’s a struggle all the time. We keep fighting against that. There were stretches where it was just nice. We know it’s difficult for every team will play with us if we play like that.”
“We didn’t play well at all. they owned. We played kickball,” said Mediapolis head coach Jon Ludens. “You can’t win a game against the defending champion by trying to kick him over the head. They’re too good for that. you will own. They make good diagonal runs. You are a good team. Even if they lost a lot of good players last year, they are still strong.”
Nikes play ball unselfishly
Notre Dame-West Burlington shared the ball better than they had all season. Additional passes led to several open looks for teammates, who planted the ball in the back of the net against veteran Mediapolis goaltender Randall Hines, who was spiked in the net and parried 18 shots and saved five.
“We work on that every day. Everyone practice. All training,” Davis said. “It’s super fun and hopefully it will be super fun in June. That is the goal.”
“If you look at our starting XI, we have six guys who are probably going to be playing college football next year,” Wagner said. “We have a lot of technical players coming on as substitutes. We can rely on that and understand that we don’t have to be so direct. We talked about the boxing analogy. We don’t have to throw haymakers. We have to stab and move.”
Still at work
While Notre Dame-West Burlington posted hat-tricks from Davis and Gabe Zurita and goals from Cole Ward and Carson Wagner, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Watching the offense from behind, Nikes defensive captain Aidan Krell was ready to tear his hair out several times when his teammates failed to make the right pass.
“Frustrating,” Krell said, watching the Nikes’ offense at times. “When you’re in the back line, you can only talk, but you’re not really in the action. All you can do is maneuver them and it is their choice whether or not they want to listen to you. They can see the whole field, but they can’t. Sometimes when they do that you have to get the ball back and do it all over again.”
Krell to the rescue
Krell plays at the all-state level for the Nikes. On two occasions he raced the length. of the field to thwart Mediapolis attacks after corner kicks. Three times he saved goalkeeper Arya Nowroozi, who wandered off the net and almost paid for it.
“That was a bit scary. I don’t want to do that again. Hopefully we don’t have that in the future,” Krell said. “This is grunt work. You have to do that, otherwise they’ll score a goal. You can’t make mistakes.”
“He’s on a different level right now,” Wagner said of Krell. “He shot it right in the first game. We had a few scrimmages and he decided he was ready to play. I think he’s ready to graduate. I know he’s ready to go to college. But he’ll make a name for himself while he’s here. He’s very smart. He is very sporty. It’s difficult for any striker who stands on it.”
The score is not indicative of Bulldogs talent
While the end result was one-sided, the talent gap between the teams isn’t that big.
Mediapolis managed three shots in the second half after getting just one in the first 40 minutes.
The teams will likely meet at least once more, possibly twice. They could meet at the SEI Superconference Tournament scheduled for May 13-14. You could also meet on the way to the state.
“We knew it was going to be a fight,” Wagner said. “These guys are really good hustlers and their program gets better every year. You have a bunch of young people. You will keep improving. I’m really impressed with them.”
“We have a bad taste in our mouths. Seeing how the guys looked and how upset they were with how they played, those are only good things from here,” said Ludens. “This one means nothing. Yes, it contradicts our record. ‘Hey, we’re going to say.’”
At the horizon
After North Scott was a guest on Friday, Notre Dame-West Burlington (4-1) welcomes Wapello on Tuesday at Tackleson Field.
Mediapolis (6-3) hosts Washington on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and then travels to play Wapello on Monday.
Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA TODAY Network in Burlington, Iowa who has been covering local sports for 31 years. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Based on the numbers
Notre Dame-West Burlington 8, Mediapolis 0
ND-WB 4 4 — 8
Mediapolis 0 0 — 0
ND-WB — 29:48 first half, Parker Davis by Gabe Zurita. ND-WB — 26:15 first half, Cole Ward from Hunter Lillie. ND-WB — 25:20 first half, Davis by Zurita. ND-WB — 10:55 first half, Davis by Zurita. ND-WB — 38:43 second half, Zurita by Davis. ND-WB — 25:49 second half, Zurita by Davis. ND-WB — 15:49 second half, Zurita by Davis. ND-WB — 0:02 second half, Seena Nowroozi’s Carson Wagner.
shots. 18. 4
saves. 3. 5
Offside 3. 1
free kicks. 8 17
corner kicks. 8. 1
penalty. 0. 0
shots on goal. 11. 12
yellow cards. 0 2
Red cards. 0. 0
Records: Notre Dame-West Burlington 4-1,