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Spartans take 2-OT shoot-out thriller

Solon defeats CCA Clippers 2-1 after 15 penalty kicks
Solon’s Dylan Doyle gets the advantage, and a header, over CCA’s Luke Oeherlich during the varsity match between the Spartans and Clippers Thursday, April 7, in Tiffin. (photos by Chris Umscheid)

TIFFIN– The Solon Spartans and Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Clippers met in boys varsity soccer action Thursday, April 7, on the Clippers’ turf with a stiff wind out of the north. Solon came into the contest with a 4-0 record with wins over Iowa Mennonite, Mediapolis, Wapello and Bellevue-Marquette Catholic, while the Clippers were basking in the glory of their season-opening win over Mid-Prairie two days earlier.
After two overtime periods and 15 Penalty Kicks (PK), Solon improved to 5-0, while the Creek Boys felt the sting of their first loss of the season.
A scoreless first half stalemate was shattered within the first 15 seconds of the second half when Solon’s Brandan Childs scored off a deflection right in front of the Clippers’ goal.
Three minutes later, Oscar Espinoza scored for the Clippers off a corner kick from Wyatt Sedlacek to tie the match, 1-1.
After two overtime periods, a shoot-out ensued with the Spartans taking the first shot. After a 5-5 tie, five more players lined up for their shot at the net. The match ended in sudden death as CCA’s Blake Nelson’s shot missed its mark. A dejected Nelson walked slowly back toward the Clipper bench as the Spartans poured onto the pitch to congratulate keeper Eric Weetman and celebrate their win.
Solon encountered its first losses of the season at the Hudson Tournament over the weekend.
The Spartans fell to Webster City (3-2) and Hudson (1-0), but rebounded Monday night with a 4-1 victory over Benton Community at home.
Solon broke open a 1-1 tie with the Bobcats in the second half, scoring three unanswered goals.
Childs, Dylan Doyle, Luke McInnis and Joe Regan all scored, with assists going to Childs, Doyle and McInnis.
The Spartans have amassed 27 goals in their first seven matches, led by Childs with nine and Ben Carr with five. Doyle (four), McInnis (three) and Zach Melchert (two) also have scored more than one goal for head coach Jeremy McMurrin’s varsity squad.
McMurrin, in his 12th year at Solon, brought a 128-63-5 career record into the season, which opened with a 6-0 home win March 31 over Iowa Mennonite.
The Spartans ran the slate at their home tournament April 2, shutting out Mediapolis (5-0) and Bellevue-Marquette Catholic (8-0) before allowing a goal in a 2-1 win over Wapello.
Sophomore Eric Weetman and junior Anthony Bullard having been sharing time protecting the goal and have combined to allow just under one goal per game.
McMurrin said he has a young and inexperienced team looking to improve each match, but he returns some key starters, including seniors Childs and Doyle, who led the team in assists and goals last year.
The Spartans ended 2015 with an 11-9 record after starting the year 2-5. They finished the regular season on a five-game winning streak, including a 7-1 win over Center Point-Urbana. Solon lost in the second round of the playoffs to West Liberty, 2-1.
The 2016 varsity squad reversed the 2015 record in its first seven matches, avenging losses last year to both CCA and Benton Community.
Seniors Simon Düster and Parker Mueller and sophomores Nick Radcliffe and Issac Vang are returning starters for Solon, with support from seniors Joe Regan, Carr and Cam McNutt, juniors JC Miller and Cole Paisley, and sophomores Nate Tucker and Weetman.
McMurrin said he expected promising contributions from newcomers McInnis (Fr.), Melchert (Sr.), Jorel Justus (Fr.) and Luke Yetley (Fr.).
Solon hosts the Anamosa Blue Raiders on Friday, April 15, and Western Dubuque on Monday, April 18. Both matches start at 5:30 p.m.