By SCOTT JACKSON
Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Getting one win won’t automatically turn around the fortunes of the Indian Hills men’s soccer team around this season.
But it certainly feels better than the alternative for head coach Doug Siegle’s squad.
After narrowly missing out on a Region XI win at home over the weekend, the Warrior men finally had a chance to celebrate Monday. Sam Puchella scored four goals as IHCC, after nine-straight frustrating outings to start the season, finally earned its first win of the season with a 5-2 victory on the road in Missouri over Culver Stockton’s junior varsity squad.
No. It doesn’t completely change the fact that the Warriors still have quite a ways to go. Monday, however, was as good a place to start as any.
“We finally are starting to see some of the passion that people wanted it out there,” Siegle said. “It could be easy for some of these guys to put their heads down and give up. We’re on our eighth different lineup and our third starting goalie of the season. The hard part has been learning to overcome mistakes or not make those mistakes. Because we’re a young team, it makes it a lot tougher, but we’ve made a lot of strides so far this season.”
The IHCC men can point to not just Monday, but also the weekend match with NIACC, as signs that perhaps things starting to trend upwards for the Warriors. Prior to Saturday, IHCC had scored only two goals all season with both coming in a 3-2 loss to Scott, by far the closest the team had come to winning one of its first eight matches.
On Saturday alone, Indian Hills topped its season goal total in the first 63 minutes. In fact, the Warriors scored two goals against NIACC alone to match the total of the first eight matches in a three-minute span.
Trailing 3-1 midway through the second Saturday on its home pitch, IHCC seemed poised to suffer yet another disappointing day of regional soccer action. Suddenly, Jonathan Silva put one kick past NIACC goalie Nathan Spores to give the Warriors its second two-goal match of the season in the 60th minute.
Silva slid in the turf in sudden celebration on wet turf during the rainy afternoon, signifying perhaps a sudden spark had developed within the Warriors team.
“We showed a lot of heart right there,” Siegle said. “The guys didn’t quit. They dug down deep and found a way to get themselves back into the game.”
Just three minutes later, IHCC continued to attack the NIACC net. That attack forced Spores to make one remarkable save, but that only allowed Sebastion Carrion to put the rebound home as the Warriors suddenly tied the match at 3-3 in the 63rd minute.
Suddenly, the Warriors had brought some life to their home dugout as the first win of the season seemed poised to be a formality. Instead, a sudden breakaway by Matthew Stewart started by a missed stop by an IHCC defender allowed the NIACC freshman to score the tiebreaking goal in the 75th minute. Stewart added a second goal six minutes later to allow the Trojans to escape Ottumwa with its second win of the season.
“We just don’t have enough experience and poise sometimes to carry ourselves through the mistakes we’re making out there on the field,” Siegle said. “Three of (NIACC’s) five goals came on counter-attacks where they just outhustled us down the field. That and defensive mistakes led to those goals.”
The virtual dead-even battle with NIACC saw IHCC put up a season-best nine shots against the Trojans, including two by Puchella who had the first goal of the day against the Trojans in the 28th minute. The Plymoth, Wisconsin sophomore carried the momentum gained from Saturday’s match into Monday’s trip to Culver Stockton, where Puchella put six more shots on goal with four finding the back of the net.
It took just five minutes for Puchella to give IHCC the lead off a pass from Jonathon Silva. The Warriors put two more goals in over the next nine minutes, by far its best offensive attack this year.
Silva added a goal off an assist from Puchella as two final second-half goals staked the Warriors to a 5-1 lead, which all but clinched that long sought-after first win of the season.
Siegle, however, knows there’s still a long way for his team to go. Fortunately, IHCC (1-9) will have plenty of chances to build off their recent success with the Warriors heading to Century College in Minnesota for a rematch of a season-opening 4-0 loss in Ottumwa before returning home Saturday to host regional rival Iowa Central on Saturday.
“More and more positives are coming to the table each day, which is what led to the results we’ve recently had,” Siegle said. “If we can learn from the mistakes we’ve made and we can correct them, especially the simple mistakes, we’ll finally overcome our biggest hurdle yet this year.”
The Indian Hills women will have to wait another day to earn its first win, however. The Warriors fell to 0-7 on Monday with a 6-0 loss at Culver Stockton JV. The IHCC women also host Iowa Central on Saturday with the regional doubleheader in Ottumwa starting at 2 p.m.
MEN’S COLLEGE SOCCER
NIACC 5, Indian Hills 3
NIACC 2 3 — 5
IHCC 1 2 — 3
IHCC — Sam Puchella goal (Richard Rugabisha assist), 28:00.
NIACC — Tim Sharples goal, 35:00.
NIACC — Tim Roberts goal, 42:00.
NIACC — Roberts goal (Driscoll assist), 47:00.
IHCC — Jonathan Silva goal, 60:00.
IHCC — Sebastion Carrion goal, 63:00.
NIACC — Matthew Stewart goal (Leo Driscoll assist), 75:00.
NIACC — Stewart goal (Driscoll assist), 81:00.
NIACC: Total Shots — 11 (Roberts 2, Stewart 2). Total Saves — 6 (Nathan Spores 6). Total Fouls — 1 (Yellow card – Nako Omot).
IHCC: Total Shots — 9 (Puchella 2, Silva 2). Total Saves — 6 (Josh Tuttle 6). Total Fouls — 1 (Yellow card – Jeremy Stufflebeem).
Indian Hills 5, Culver Stockton JV 2
IHCC 3 2 — 5
CSJV 1 1 — 2
IHCC — Sam Puchella goal (Jonathan Silva assist), 5:00.
IHCC — Puchella goal (Silva assist), 8:00.
IHCC — Puchella goal (Silva assist), 14:00.
CSJV — Team Goal, 40:00
IHCC — Puchella goal (Jeremy Stufflebeem assist), 74:00.
IHCC — Silva goal (Puchella assist), 80:00.
CSJV — Team Goal, 82:00.
IHCC: Total Shots — 12 (Puchella 6). Total Saves — 6 (Josh Tuttle 6). Total Fouls — 1 (Yellow card – Sebastion Carrion).
Culver Stockton JV 6, Indian Hills 0
IHCC 0 0 — 0
CSJV 3 3 — 6
IHCC: Total Shots — 3 (Cameron Barbera 2). Total Saves — 12 (Ashley Hartnedy 12). Total Fouls — 0.
CSJV: Total Shots — 25. Total Saves — 3. Total Fouls — 0.