June 6–Championship Saturday
Saturday morning, as the team arose from a good night’s sleep, it started to set in: “we’re playing for a State Championship”…
The Lions routine had worked from the day before, so it was breakfast, shakeout, free time, movie time, Champions League Final, light lunch, and then off to Cownie Soccer Park. You could feel the intensity rise with every passing hour, the team was very focused on the game plan and felt confident that they could bring home Linn-Mar’s First State Championship in it’s storied, 30-year history.
As the team arrived, Xavier was putting a cap on it’s State Tournament run and following the 2A Awards and Presentation of Trophies the Lions took the field. As the game began the Lions looked comfortable and allowed Ankeny Centennial the opportunity to possess the ball, but locked down defensively when the Jaguars tried to penetrate into the final 1/3. In the 20th minute, the Lions broke through as Alexy Boehm’f free kick from outside of the 18-yd box skimmed off the head of a Jaguar defender for an own-goal…Interesting how last year the Lions suffered the same fate in both the semi-final and consolation game, and now they were on the other side of bad luck. The Jags continued to switch the ball from sideline to corner, and had some chances going to our goal, but the Lions defense and Phil Adams ability to punch the ball away in traffic kept them from scoring early on. In the 34th minute, Linn-Mar added to it’s lead as Rambo (AKA, Ben Johnson) bulldogged his way through 2 defenders with the ball and found a supporting run from Leroy Enzugusi, who finished the play off putting the balll into the back of the net. Just as time was winding down in the half, Centennial seemed to catch a break as Alexy Boehm was again at the center of the play; however this time, he was called for a handball in the 18 and the Jags were awarded a penalty kick. As the 20-goal scorer for Centennial stepped up, it appeared as though LM goalkeeper Phil Adams was still stretching, but no matter, as the Senior read the shooter for a 2nd day in a row, and blocked the penalty, keeping his opponent off the board.
As the 2nd half began, the Lions fully expected more pressure from the Jaguars but after not giving up many good looks, all that Centennial had gained appeared to be frustration. They continued to possess early in the second forty, but never got into good scoring situations. As the time ticked down (ever so slowly), the Lions gained more possession as the Jaguars pushed more people forward into the attack, but it was another strong defensive effort in the air and on the ground that proved to be too much to handle, and when the final whistle blew, the Lions had earned their first State Championship!! The team had taken down the top three, 3A teams in the state in consecutive days to earn the title.
The Lions were handsomely-rewarded for their outstanding play with four players making the All-Tournament Team: GK- Phil Adams, FW/MD-Ben Johnson, FW/MD-Leroy Enzugusi, and All-Tournament Team Captain DF-Jack Ramsey.
Ankeny Centennial: 0
Goals: Own Goal (GWG), Leroy Enzugusi
Assists: Ben Johnson
Game Winning Goalkeeper/Shutout: Phil Adams, 1 saves
Shots on Goal/Shots: LM- 4/10, AC-1/10
Corner Kicks Taken: LM-3, AC-1
Goal Kicks Taken: LM-11, AC-7
Fouls Committed: LM-13, AC-14
KCRG/Gazette Sports: Linn-Mar takes down another higher-ranked foe for state championship
Metro Sports Report: Lions snare 1st soccer title in history
Des Moines Register: Class 3-A: Linn-Mar speeds away from Centennial for title
On Friday, the Lions headed back to the place where things went awry last year: Field 9 and the Johnston Dragons. Although the Dragons didn’t score against the Lions last year (own goal), there was still a bitter taste and an opportunity for Linn-Mar to clean its pallet. Johnston brought a perfect 20-0 record into the game, and the distinction of neither trailing from behind or allowing more than one goal in any match this season.
Johnston looked the part early, as the Dragons attacked quickly and with numbers, but not until the 12th minute did the Lions give up their first and only goal of the game. A quick turn and strike by a Dragon player put them on the board first, 1-0. Linn-Mar showed no sign of fear though, and eventually equalled the game at 1 when Jared Slagle played a perfect corner to center back, Jack Ramsey who re-directed the ball in with his head, in the 19th minute. Play was back and for much of the time, to round out the half.
In the second half, play got a little more physical/chippy, with neither team at a disadvantage, really….Johnston pressed numbers forward, and often used corners and long throw ins to try and get a goal. The Lions defense was up to the challenge, until an errant clearance led to a hand ball and PK. as the Dragon player took the PK, goalkeeper Phil Adams, read the shooter, and parried the ball wide to keep the game knotted at 1. Then, as momentum swung, the Lions counter-attack took over and just 3 minutes after the save PK, the Lions were back in the lead as Daniel Luzindya beat his defender, drove the baseline and found a streaking Leroy Enzugusi for the eventual game winner.
The Lions will now attempt to keep things going as they play in and for their first -ever State Championship game, vs Ankeny a Centennial on the same field (#9, 5pm).
Goals: Leroy Enzugusi (GWG), Jack Ramsey
Assists: Daniel Luzindya/Nathan Luzindya, Jared Slagle
Game Winning Goalkeeper: Phil Adams, 6 saves
Shots on Goal/Shots: LM- 8/16, JHS- 7/12
Corner Kicks Taken: LM-5, JHS-12
Goal Kicks Taken: LM-9, JHS-5
Fouls Committed: LM-19, JHS-11
Metro Sports Report: Adams saves Lions against No.1 Johnston
KCRG/Gazette Sports: Linn-Mar slays unbeaten Dragons in state soccer semifinals
Des Moines Register: Linn-Mar’s giant effort topples unbeaten Johnston
On Thursday, the Lions made a return trip to Des Moines one year after earning 4th place overall. Today’s matchup was very similar as the Lions opened the tournament against a conference opponent who they had previously lost to…Hempstead. The loss in Dubuque on May 5th has been a thorn in their paw ever since, and Linn-Mar could not AND WOULD NOT, let it happen again.
Ben Johnson started the scoring just 5min into the game to give the Lions a 1-0 advantage, early. While possession was back and forth through the half, Linn-Mar missed some golden opportunities during the first 40 that really should have been put away (or at minimum put on goal). Most of Hemptead”s good chances either came from distance, or on corners and set pieces, but the defense was on point and along with some timely punches from goalkeeper Phil Adams, kept Hempstead scoreless.
the Lions used their bench much more often today as the himifdity was high, along with the temps, and that proved to be a key factor as the Lions slowly wore down the Mustangs. Again in the second half, the Lions scored early (45:12). This time a Hunter Wong shot from distance got deflected and ended up at the feet of Daniel Luzindya who was able to just get enough on it to beat the Hempstead keeper and stretch the lead to 2-0. Once again the defense was able to hold strong in the 2nd half and had a great overall effort from everyone to preserve the shutout.
The Lions return to familiar territory on Friday, as the play at 5:00 vs Johnston. Last year the Lions lost to the Dragons, 1-0, is urging the same semifinal round matchup.
Dubuque Hempstead: 0
Goals: Ben Johnson (GWG), Daniel Luzindya
Assists: Leroy Enzugusi, Hunter Wong/Jonny Williams
Game Winning Goalkeeper/Shutout: Phil Adams, 3 saves
Shots on Goal/Shots: LM- 11/22, DH- 3/14
Corner Kicks Taken: LM-5, DH-7
Goal Kicks Taken: LM-8, DH-11
Fouls Committed: LM-14, DH-9
KCRG/Gazette Sports: Linn-Mar takes advantage of speed in 3A quarterfinal win
Metro Sports Report: Lions get taste of revenge at state
Dubuque Telegraph Herald: Boys prep soccer: Linn-Mar ends Hempstead’s state tourney run