Waterloo scored early and often Tuesday, leaving nothing to chance.
Senior Ben Huels and Philip Most, picking up where they left off Saturday, each scored two goals as the Bulldogs ripped Carbondale 7-0 in the semifinals of the Class 2A Waterloo Sectional. All of Waterloo’s goals came in the first half.
The second half was reduced from 40 minutes to 20 minutes because the Bulldogs held a seven-goal lead. Ironically, it was Carbondale that had the first shot of the game.
“You always need a little eye-opener, and that was it,” Waterloo coach Chad Holden said. “They came down and did get that shot on goal. After that, though, I don’t even know if they had another shot.
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“It just seemed like we were playing in gears. We played in first gear for a while, then all of a sudden, we were in fifth gear. We were moving the ball very well. We were finding those seams and our guys were making their runs. That’s what we’ve been stressing.”
Seniors Griffin Lenhardt and Cole Kolmer and freshman Jake Elsing also scored goals, while senior Trevor Coplin and freshman Sam Ward shared the shutout in goal.
Waterloo (18-3-3) will face Jacksonville (19-4) in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday. Jacksonville defeated Marion 5-2 in the other semifinal Tuesday.
“They are who we thought they were,” said Carbondale coach Jeff Hansen, whose inexperienced team finished 9-14-1. “They’re big up front, they’ve got multiple goal-scorers and they’re big and athletic in the back. The first 20 (minutes) with Waterloo are always an important 20 minutes. We just didn’t respond very well.”
Huels finished the Bulldogs’ first two goals on assists from junior Ethan Schilling and senior Ryan Stites in the first 13 minutes, 28 seconds. Huels then assisted on the next two goals by Lenhardt and Most that doubled Waterloo’s lead to 4-0 at 17:58.
Elsing, who suffered a knee injury in the second half, scored in the middle of the box and Kolmer hit a rocket into the net that made it 6-0 at 30:21.
Holden put his starters back into the game in the final five minutes of the second half, and Most scored in the final minute to make it 7-0 and cut the second half to 20 minutes.
“We were trying to get some other kids some time, too, that have put the time in for us (so they could) get a little experience,” Holden said. “At the same time, if we get that seventh goal, not that we like to rub it in on anybody, but it cuts the time in half and we’re able to move on. We were able to get all our kids in ... and get a little glimpse of our future.”
Most had two goals and an assist and Huels added a goal and an assist in the Bulldogs’ 3-1 victory in two overtimes over Columbia on Saturday in the title game of the Columbia Regional. When they’re contributing like they are, it’s a good sign for Waterloo.
Huels’ 30 goals lead the team. Most has 22 goals.
“We tried to take 28 goals out,” Hansen said of the Terriers’ attempt to shut down Huels. “You can’t. He just towers over our kids and we don’t have anybody to stop that.”
But Holden isn’t looking too far ahead as his team shoots for its second straight state championship. The Bulldogs beat Peoria Notre Dame for the title last year.
“It’s not going to get any easier. We know there’s no easy wins left,” Holden said. “We’re just going to worry about Friday night right now. We always talk about just enjoying the moment. Don’t worry too much about the future. We’ll go back to work (Wednesday).”