Men’s soccer: IHCC soccer advances to district finals

Nov. 3—OTTUMWA — The festive weekend is still on schedule at Indian Hills.

The ninth-ranked Warrior men’s soccer team did their part, moving one step closer to qualifying for their NJCAA Division I National Tournament on Friday afternoon scoring four goals in the second half to put away a 5-0 win over Harry S. Truman College in the first of two Midwest District semifinals played on IHCC Ottumwa campus soccer complex.

The 18th-ranked IHCC volleyball team will be next up this weekend, playing tomorrow in their one-day, four-team, single-elimination Midwest Tournament. The Warrior men’s soccer team plans to be inside the Hellyer Student Life Center on Saturday to cheer on their volleyball classmates to a potential national tournament berth with the favor being returned on Sunday afternoon when No. 9 IHCC returns to the pitch to play for a district title and the program’s second-ever national tournament berth.

“We try to cheer on the other athletes as much we can every time they play at home,” Indian Hills freshman Lucas Bauer said. “Hopefully, we can give them the extra 20 percent that helps them get through their games and get to a district title. It’s just fellow athletes helping each out and wishing the best for each other.”

Bauer did his part to help get Indian Hills on the right foot in the postseason opener for the Warrior men’s soccer team. After surviving a couple early scoring chances by the visiting Falcons, including an early save by IHCC freshman goal keeper Harvey Sellers, the Warriors used sharp passing to find Bauer cutting the goal in the 30th minute with touches by Luka Laurin Heins and Andrea Oriolesi setting up a shot that found the back of the net giving the Warriors a much-needed 1-0 lead.

“I think a few people were nervous in the first few minutes,” Bauer said. “After a little while, it got better. Coach (Felix Vu) made a couple of great substitutions and the good game we played just continued.”

Despite finishing the first half with an 11-2 edge in total shots, Bauer’s goal was the only one scored by the Warriors in the first half keeping Truman in contention heading into the second half trailing 1-0. More than the Xs and Os, Vu used the halftime break to remind his team what they were playing for being two wins away from a national tournament berth.

“We just wanted to instill in the boys what it meant to play in this match and play for Indian Hills,” Vu said. “We were a little bit fearful in the first half.”

The Warriors finally broke away from the Falcons less than five minutes into the second half. Nestor Benbella drew a penalty on an attack and converted on the ensuing penalty kick in the 49th minute, giving IHCC a 2-0 lead.

Just over a minute later, Heins would add to the Indian Hills lead. Bauer and Fernando Pirri set up a run that resulted in a goal by their sophomore teammate, opening a three-goal lead over the Warriors in the 50th minute of the match.

“We understood how important this was and we just told each other to step up again,” Bauer said. “We put an extra 10-15 percent more into things in the second half. When it’s 1-0, that’s always difficult because one goal can change everything. Getting the second goal meant everything to us.”

Pirri set up Daniel Mulero in the 59th minute for a goal that put the Warriors on top 4-0. Keigo Yoshida added one final goal for Indian Hills with less than three minutes left, scoring on a pass from Emilio Linares that led the biggest celebration of the match by the entire Warrior men’s soccer team.

“We always try to celebrate as much as we can,” Bauer said. “In such an important game, people from bench and the pitch and the people outside watching give us that extra 10-15 percent more. When we score, it’s pure joy. That’s what we try to celebrate.”

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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