Highland High School boys soccer coach Josh Oswald said if his team plays up to their potential, he likes his team’s chances against just about any opponent. After starting 0-2, the Bulldogs have backed up their coach’s strong words by going 3-0-1 in the past week to cap off a 5-0-1 two-week stretch.
“If these boys play up to their capabilities, let the chips fall where they may because I will take my chances with them on the field of battle against just about any team,” said Oswald, whose team was 5-2-1 entering Tuesday’s tough Mississippi Valley Conference tilt against top-ranked and defending Class 2A state champion Waterloo.
In the past week, Highland blanked Triad 3-0 on Tuesday of last week at Glik Park in Highland, which was followed by a 2-1 victory over visiting Collinsville on Thursday. Then on Saturday, the Bulldogs traveled to Mater Dei and downed the Knights for the second time this season, this time 2-1. Finally on Monday, Highland earned a 0-0 draw with fourth-ranked Columbia.
“What a two weeks it’s been,” Oswald said. “The boys have gone 5-0-1 in the last six games including two wins over MD (4-1 and 2-1), a 3-0 win over Triad, a 5-1 win over unbeaten at the time and No. 7 ranked CM, 2-1 win over an always tough Collinsville team, and now a 0-0 tie with undefeated and No. 4 ranked Columbia.”
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Highland 0, Columbia 0
The Bulldogs controlled the entire second half but just couldn’t break through. Columbia keeper Jon Kuebler made six saves while Highland senior goalie Luke Jones stopped three shots.
“We controlled the majority of the game but just couldn’t finish tonight,” Oswald said. “We rang a few off the post and had some close ones but I love the effort and intensity. Great job again from Jones and the defense. He had some nice saves when he was tested. The few shots we gave up were tough saves but we limited the shooting.”
Highland 2, Mater Dei 1
The Bulldogs again got the better of the play and controlled the second half, limiting the scoring chances for the Knights.
Junior defender Drake Gehrs scored the first goal off a free kick. Mater Dei’s Adam Gall matched it as both teams were deadlocked at the half.
But senior striker Brent Rapien converted a penalty kick in the second half to notch the game winner and give him the team lead with five markers.
Jones recorded three saves for Highland while Justin Fritch had six saves for Mater Dei.
Highland 2, Collinsville 1
The Bulldogs had a rough second half but were able to weather the storm and counter attack to get another big win over another quality program. Jones made some great saves between the pipes and he was backed by a good defensive effort. The combination helped keep Highland in the game.
Jones ended up ringing up 14 saves, several of the spectacular variety.
Junior forward Andrew Roach netted the first goal for Highland and Hunter Counton had the equalizer for Collinsville before halftime off an assist from Jesus Valverde.
But senior forward Lucas Ammann put in the game-winning goal in the second half.
Seniors Montana Gilbert and Evan Herman produced the assists for the Bulldogs.
Kahok keeper Brett Niedzwiecki made four saves.
Highland 3, Triad 0
After both teams split the first half in terms of who got the better of the play. Highland won the first 20 minutes until a planned stoppage at the midway point for a water break due to the extreme heat. Then after the water break, Triad got the better of the play over the final 20 minutes.
But after halftime, there was no doubt which team was the aggressor and had the better of the possession and pressure. The Bulldogs completely owned the final 40 minutes of play, pumping in three goals and blanking their nemesis fairly easily.
Senior forward Brent Rapien netted two goals for the second consecutive game and fellow senior forward Lucas Ammann scored the third and final marker.
Senior goalie Luke Jones only had to make two saves to record his first shutout of the season. But Jones made a great save on a Triad free kick with 16 minutes, 19 seconds left that preserved Highland’s 1-0 lead.
Conversely, Triad keeper John McGee was bombarded with 16 HHS shots on goal and he only played in the second half.
Eight minutes and 51 seconds into the second half, junior defender Jake Ramsey fed Rapien to christen the scoreboard. Ramsey sent a pass that was whiffed on by a Triad defender and went on through to a charging and unguarded Rapien, who buried a low blast into the back of the net for the only goal Highland would really need.
The Bulldogs tacked on an insurance goal off a corner kick with 13:54 to play. Junior defender Drake Gehrs served a nice ball on a line drive to the front of the net where Rapien charged it and timed it perfectly to head it crisply by McGee for a 2-0 advantage.
Then with 9:15 to go, Herman found Ammann and he launched a high rocket off the cross bar and in to cap off the scoring and the dominant win for the Bulldogs.