Titans avenge Cyclone boys in substate final, 4-0

LC flips the score from opening loss in Harlan April 1

 COUNCIL BLUFFS (May 25) -- When it comes to Class 2A boys soccer in southwest Iowa, perhaps the only team playing better than Harlan Community of late was the one the Cyclones met in Saturday’s Substate 8 final.
 Scoring twice in a 54-second span of the first half and adding two more goals late, Lewis Central took control early and never let HCHS have any momentum, avenging a season-opening 4-0 loss in Harlan with a 4-0 victory at Titan Stadium.
 LC, which dropped back to Class 2A this year after many seasons in 3A, won its 10th straight game - all by shutout - and will take a 17-3 record into Thursday’s state tournament quarterfinal against Storm Lake (16-1) in Des Moines. The ninth-ranked and third-seeded Titans are making their first trip to state in boys soccer since 1997.
 The Cyclones, meanwhile, lost in the substate final round for the second straight year and finished 14-8, playing their best soccer in May following a 4-6 start.
 “Lewis Central had more energy than we did,” said HCHS head coach Dave Voge, adding that he knew the Titans would be highly motivated for Saturday’s rematch.
 “We beat them 4-0 at the beginning of the year. We embarrassed them, to say it frankly. They’ve got the number one goalie [Cole Jensen]. He’s highly touted, with good reason... It was just an off day, and it’s a bad day to have an off day when you’re trying to go to state, but the guys didn’t give up and that’s what it’s all about. We told them that we’re proud of them for that and we had a great season.”
 The Titans came out energized from the first kick and set the tone by winning possession battles early. HCHS also had a major setback about 10 minutes into the match when junior Jordan Fink bumped heads with a Lewis Central player in mid-air and suffered a gash above his eye that required stitches. He did not return.
 Shortly after the injury, LC junior Luis Espino scored goals in the 13th and 14th minutes off nice forward passes into the 18-yard box. The scored remained 2-0 for more than 50 minutes until Jacob Lin and Adam Mortensen both added LC goals in the 65th and 69th minutes, respectively, to remove all doubt.
 April 1 is a long time ago, but the Titans surely hadn’t forgotten their 4-0 loss in Harlan. Since that time, LC has allowed just five more goals in 19 matches. Jensen, an NCAA Division I signee with Xavier, has logged 17 shutouts.
 HCHS finished with only three fewer shots on goal (seven) than LC (10) on Saturday, led by Michael Heithoff with four and Kyle Knudson three. Konner Leinen made six saves at goalie.

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