It has been a spectacular season of soccer thus far for South Webster.
The Jeeps looked to continue that run Saturday afternoon against Valley in district tournament action at Waverly. South Webster was able to survive and advance in decisive fashion, 5-1.
Indians head coach Andy Johnson had high praise for the Jeeps after the match.
“They’re very skilled, they possess the ball a lot,” Johnson said. “We knew coming in how strong they are.”
South Webster was able to control the ball early and often, and made the most of their chances when they had them.
In the 13th minute, that was put on display when Samuel Holstein scored for the Jeeps. It was the first of three goals on the day for Holstein.
“We knew we had to come out strong, you never want to take an opponent lightly,” South Webster head coach Corey Claxon said following the match.
Valley was able to put up a solid fight throughout the contest, though. Sophomore Cameron Phillips recorded a shot in the 21st, but Jeeps keeper Tanner Voiers was right there to make the save.
Shortly afterwards in the 25th minute, South Webster’s Shiloah Blevins sent a rocket shot from 25 yards out that found the net to give the Jeeps a 2-0 edge.
“I just saw where their keeper was really out, he was maybe a yard in front of the six … I knew it would be a good shot,” Blevins said.
Holstein had another opportunity to add to the score in the 31st, but just missed. At halftime, South Webster was up 2-0 over the Indians.
As soon as the second half got underway, the Jeeps came out firing. Holstein looked to score once more, but his shot in the first 20 seconds of the half missed high.
Braden Martin had Holstein’s back, though, as he was able to score just several seconds later. In the 41st minute, South Webster staked a claim to a 3-0 advantage.
Just over six minutes later in the 46th minute of action, Blevins found Holstein for a score, and the Jeeps were now ahead 4-0.
The play demonstrated the dynamic that Blevins and Holstein share on the field. Blevins drew the attention of several defenders, made a nice move, and reversed position to dish the ball to Holstein. From there, Holstein did the rest of the work, knocking the ball in.
“It’s kind of like we’re telepathic, we know what each other is doing,” Blevins said about his relationship with Holstein. “We know if I’m going to run, he knows to send it. I know if he’s going to run, and I’ll send it. We work real well together.”
Holstein expressed the same sentiment.
“It’s really awesome actually because whenever he’s out I feel like I can’t hardly do anything,” Holstein said. “I feel like we’re just a part of each other … we play really well together.”
In the 51st minute, Holstein scored his third goal of the game. That score was the last of the day for the Jeeps.
“Sam is just a quality player for us,” Claxon said. “He can come back and get the ball, he can turn, he’s got a hard shot. He plays hard, he plays physical, and it just adds up to be a great player.”
The Indians weren’t done, though, and kept applying pressure against South Webster. That paid off in the 55th minute, when Valley’s Cayton Ruby scored on a pass from Phillips to put the Indians on the scoreboard.
“We don’t get many opportunities against a good defense,” Johnson said about the play. “We got one through, and were able to put it in.”
Ruby’s score was the last of the day for both schools, as the Jeeps wound up winning 5-1. Still, Valley kept up the fight throughout and played hard until the match concluded.
“I’m super proud of them,” Johnson said. “All I could ask from them is to fight and to play 80 minutes, and we did. It’s been a good year for us, we’re coming off a rebuilding year and we’ve got a lot of young kids but they’re improving.”
Johnson hopes that the Indians can continue their progress in the offseason and come out ready to fight next year.
“We’ve got some playing time in for all our kids, so I think we should be better next year,” Johnson said. “I hope to keep building our program, our numbers are improving and our skill level is improving. I think we should have a bright future.”
The Valley head coach also had some kind words for their opponent after the match was over.
“I wish South Webster the best,” Johnson said. “They’ve got a wonderful coaching staff and a wonderful program, and I hope they make a good run here in the tournament.”
Allowing only one goal, the defense shined for the Jeeps in the win.
“Our defense has been a big part of our team too, it’s been solid,” Claxon said. “We’ve got [Jacob] Ruth in the back who’s fast and hard to get through, and they’ve just worked together as a unit and that’s what you want.”
With the victory for South Webster, the Jeeps advance in the district tournament to face Lynchburg-Clay.
Claxon knows what the Mustangs bring to the table, although he hasn’t had a chance to look too far into it just yet.
“Lynchburg is a team that we don’t get to see very often, but they’ve got their key guys back from last year,” Claxon said. “I think they’re a good team, although we haven’t seen them.”
Blevins added “I think it’ll be a good matchup for us, definitely a challenging one.”
South Webster and Lynchburg-Clay are set to face off at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening at Waverly.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or on Facebook.com/ReporterBenSpicer