The Highland High boys soccer team team’s good start to the season hit a speed bump when the Bulldogs encountered a buzz-saw portion of the schedule against top-tier competition. The result, the Bulldogs veered off the winning track for a three-game losing skid.
First, Highland was edged by consecutive 2-1 counts in as many days, first at Triad on Friday and then at home to Mater Dei on Saturday. Then on Monday, the still-unbeaten Columbia Eagles came to Glik Park and pinned a 5-1 home shellacking on the Bulldogs.
The three-game slide dipped Highland’s overall record to 4-5 while the loss at Triad evened the Bulldogs’ Mississippi Valley Conference mark at 1-1.
And the schedule did not do Highland any immediate favors on Tuesday as they had to travel to Waterloo (9-1), which is one of the best teams in the Metro-East. Prior to Tuesday’s game against HHS, Waterloo had outscored its opponents by a 46-10 margin.
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Against Columbia, about the only bright spot for Highland was junior forward Brent Rapien’s first-half unassisted goal was the first one of the year scored off the still-unbeaten Eagles (6-0-1), who have now outscored their season foes, 46-1.
The goal increased Rapien’s team-leading total to an impressive eight markers in the team’s nine games.
But it was not nearly enough as Columbia scored twice before halftime and then piled on three more tallies in the final 40 minutes.
In a split effort in goal for Highland, sophomore Evan Herman made four saves and was beaten for a trio of goals in 50 minutes, while junior Luke Jones had three saves but was beaten for a pair of tallies in 30 minutes.
Eagle Sean Rickey netted a hat trick, including the game-winning second marker, and added an assist.
Also for Columbia, Alec Broske and Connor Jackson each had one goal while Ryan Gudeman, Adam Becker and Cameron Roth each had one assist apiece. In addition, Jon Kuebler made five saves to earn the win for the Eagles.
Against Mater Dei (7-2) on Saturday, the Knights received two goals in a 1:41 span just past the midway point of the first half and then made it hold up for the 2-1 victory over Highland.
Just five seconds past the halfway point at the 19:55 mark before halftime, Mater Dei’s Blake Beckmann took a pass from Cade Breed and buried a blast to grab the lead for the Knights. It was Beckmann’s ninth goal of the year.
Just 101 seconds later, Breed picked up his second assist, this time with a helper to Alex Loepker, who ripped a low shot inside the left post for his second tally of the season. Loepker’s goal would stand as the eventual game winner.
With 12:26 to go in the first half, Highland got on the scoreboard with a beautiful goal. Junior forward Lucas Ammann headed the ball across the mouth of the goal to Herman, now playing forward, and Herman chipped it in for his third marker of the campaign. It was Ammann’s second helper of the season.
Jones had five saves for the Bulldogs while Garrett Beckmann turned away eight Highalnd shots on goal.
Against Triad (4-4-1), Lucas Howard and Chase Jones scored first-half goals, with Jones proving to the game-winning marker and both assists coming from Levi Tripto.
Jones’ goal increased his team lead to 10 while it was the second of the season for Howard. Tripto raised his team-high number of assists to six.
Ammann netted his third goal of the campaign for the Bulldogs off Rapien’s fifth assist, which shares the team lead with junior midfielder Brendan Schrage.
Between the pipes, John McGee converted eight saves for Triad while Jones made five saves for Highland.