It’s been a process that Anamosa boys’ soccer coach Dr. Mike Weston set into motion well before the start of the 2022 season, and he’s starting to see some results.
Even if, admittedly, others may not.
“I know some people might see a 7-0 loss as something not to be proud of, but what I saw in our game against Denver was an outstanding effort from our boys taking on a team that 10-pointed us by halftime just last year,” said Weston, as his team hosted the Cyclones Thursday, May 5.
“Not only that, but we made some improvements with our play from Monday at Cascade. We’re taking steps. No doubt about it. This team is getting better, even if the won-loss record isn’t exactly what the boys or anyone else wants, I’m happy with some of the progress we’re making. Hopefully the wins will start to come if the boys continue to believe and play hard.”
Anamosa (1-10) fell into a 4-0 halftime hole against Denver as the Cyclones scored early before the hosts began to settle in.
“They scored a goal nine-minutes into the game then our defense did a really good job,” Weston said. “We started challenging the 50/50 balls much better than we have most of the year and started to step up and play more physical, which is something we’re been working on since before the start of the season. Again, it’s a work in progress.”
Denver didn’t score again until the 16-minute mark, but when they did, it ignited the Cyclone offense who scored two more times before the break to take command of the contest.
Denver added two more goals in the final 40-minute frame, one coming early (31-minute mark) and one late (7-minutes remaining).
The Cyclones out-shot the Raiders 29-6 as Sean Hollett led the hosts with two attempts at the Denver net while Skylar Hollett, Robert Scranton, Austin Scranton and Ayden Koob all added one shot each.
Anamosa keeper Nick Raine tallied 23 saves during his busy stretch tending the goal.
Just three days earlier the Raiders were in Cascade Monday, May 2, where the Anamosa team struggled through a tough 10-0 defeat that ended at the 13-minute mark of the second half.
“Cascade has a lot of speed, particularly with their outside guys and we struggled with that all game long,” said Weston, as his team trailed 6-0 at the half.
“Once they got past us, there was just Nick left all by himself at the goal, and that makes things very tough on him.”
Austin Scranton led the eight-shot Raider offense coming through with four against the Cougars while Sean Hollett, Koob, Andrew Green and Hunter Ash all came through with attempts as well for the visitors.
“This was Austin Scranton’s best game of the year from the forward position,” Weston said. “He really made a difference out there and really battled.”
Raine made 21 saves facing 31 Cascade shots.
Anamosa’s busy week came to an end in Vinton-Shellsburg Saturday, May 7, where the Raiders took part at the Vikings’ annual tournament, opening against the hosts who claimed a 6-0 victory.
“I thought our guys did a much better job with spacing on both sides of the field and once again took steps towards more improved play,” Weston said. “It was nice to finally have some wonderful weather and playing on the field turf was a little different too. The game is much faster on that surface and Vinton-Shellsburg had the advantage on us knowing how differently the ball moves on that fast field.”
The Vikings led 4-0 at the half before adding two second half goals outshooting the Raiders 25-2 with Sean Hollett and Christian Hudson tallying the lone two attempts for the visitors while Raine made 19 saves tending the Anamosa goal.
The final match of the tournament saw a 7-0 loss against Gladbrook-Reinbeck/Grundy Center.
“I think some of that first game took its toll on our guys in this one,” Weston said. “This was Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s first game of the tournament and we had just an hour break before this one and our first game. I think we ran out of gas a bit, but the boys still battled to the end.”
Even while being outshot 43-0, the Raiders still managed not to allow Gladbrook-Reinbeck/Grundy Center to end the match early as Raine was sensational making 36 saves.
“By the second half we were down to just 11 players which allowed some of our younger guys some time on the field,” Weston said. “But it also led to the lopsided outcome. Nick faced a shooting gallery all game long and did a fantastic job for us.”