Even before the match started, Creston boys soccer coach Jesus Rodriguez could tell something wasn’t quite right with his team.
The Panthers hosted Class 2A 10th-ranked Glenwood Thursday, and Rodriguez was hoping for the same intensity his team brought to an overtime victory over Lewis Central Tuesday.
But the day wasn’t shaping up well, as two starters and a key reserve were not available against the talented Rams.
The forward corps was especially hit hard. Sophomore Cory Rathe had the cast removed from his broken hand, but doctors said he shouldn’t play unless the Panthers make a playoff run.
“They don’t want him falling on it and possibly re-injuring it,” Rodriguez said.
Two other sophomores —forward McClain Haines and midfielder Garret Geary — faced a one-game suspension.
“An incident happened at school and we lost those guys for tonight,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t know about it until right before the game, and I could tell some of the guys were down. They were out of focus. We didn’t go through the same pregame routine. I told the guys, if we show up to play with the same intensity as we did Tuesday, We win this game.”
The Rams stymied the Panther offense and scored on a penalty kick by Tyler Jensen and a long shot from the left side by Brandon Bichel in a four-minute stretch midway through the first half. It was Jensen’s seventh goal of the season, to go along with 12 assists.
Logan McCorkle scored from out front for the only scoring of the second half and the final 3-0 margin.
The Rams improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the Hawkeye 10. Other wins were 3-1 over Harlan and 7-0 over Atlantic, while falling 3-0 to LC.
Creston fell to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
After the match, Rodriguez felt the best way to flush this lackluster effort was to take a little time off, and come back recharged on Monday.
“We were definitely off,” he said. “It was our worst game of the year. We going to take Friday off. We’ll brush this off and come back ready to go Monday. We have Denison next Thursday, and we don’t need this type of effort. Hopefully we’ll learn from this.”
There’s good news on the personnel front upcoming, Rodriguez said.
Besides the return of Haines and Geary, he said senior Josh Sawtelle is expected back from injury, and the team should be bolstered by the end of academic ineligibility for Frank Martinez and Skylar Cook.
“We were struggling with enough bodies,” Rodriguez said. “Those guys are good players and can help us.”
Levi Eblen led Creston with three shots Thursday, including one on goal. Conner Pals, with seven goals to date, was limited to two shots.
“McClain and Pals have good chemistry when they’re in there together,” Rodriguez said. “It will be a lot better with both of them in there.”
Glenwood won the JV match, 2-0. Creston had six shots. Jake Miller was goalkeeper.
Glenwood 3, Creston 0
Creston (0) — Total shots — 9. Individual shots — Levi Eblen 3, Conner Pals 2, Brant Hudson 1, Kaleb Cook 1, Trevor Frain 1, Brandon Lee 1. Shots on goal — Lee 1, Eblen 1. Keeper saves — Alex Nielsen 11. Cards —None.
Glenwood (3) — Tyler Jensen PK, 29:30 first half; Brandon Richel, 25:58 second half; Logan McCorkle, 23:17 second half. Cards — Jensen (Y), Ryan Leu (Y).