HARLAN — Creston’s hopes for tying for a conference championship in boys soccer took a major hit in a 4-2 loss to Harlan Monday night.
Playing with the wind in the first half, Harlan took a 3-0 lead, and added another early goal in the second half for a 4-0 lead before the Panthers rallied with a pair of goals on free kicks by Josh Sawtelle and Conner Pals.
It was the Cyclones’ first conference victory in six matches, while improving to 6-10 overall. Creston fell to 7-5 overall and 2-2 in league play, with a makeup match tonight at Denison-Schleswig.
Creston coach Jesus Rodriguez was hoping tonight’s match would be a key one for securing a share of the conference lead, but the Cyclones tripped up that theory with the strong start.
“We didn’t play very well,” Rodriguez said. “We gave them their first two goals. They had the wind in the first half, and they took advantage with three goals.”
Creston had won four of five matches since losing 1-0 to Winterset in the Huskies’ tournament on April 13.
“Harlan is a good team, but if we played like we’ve normally been playing, we would have done much better against them,” Rodriguez said. “We adjusted, went back to a 4-4-2 (alignment) and pushed forward with more attacking for two goals. But they were too far ahead.”
Sawtelle knocked in his free kick with his left foot with 26 minutes left to make it 4-1, and Pals added another free kick over the wall of defenders about 11 minutes later.
The Panthers head north again today for the makeup match at Denison (6-6), rather than the originally scheduled home match against Clarinda Academy.
“Our guys are a little tired now,” Rodriguez said. “Now, we have to depend on other people to lose and others to win for us to get to the (conference) top. I told the guys, let’s just go on and win out before we play Winterset in the playoffs.”
The teams tied 1-1 in JV action Monday. Aaron Shaw scored on an assist by Skylar Cook. Goalkeepers were Sawtelle and Jake Miller.
Harlan 4, Creston 2
Creston (2) — Josh Sawtelle, free kick 26:00 second half; Conner Pals, free kick 15:00 second half. Total shots — 13. Individual shots — Pals 3, Kaleb Cook 2, Sawtelle 2, McClain Haines 2, Trevor Frain 2, Francisco Martinez 2, Levi Eblen 1. Keeper saves — Alex Nielsen 12. Cards — None.