It would have been easy for the Indian Hills men’s soccer team to pack it in Wednesday in their first-ever home playoff game. Just as easy as it would have been for the Warriors to pack it in this season.
But if head coach Doug Seigle learned anything about his men’s soccer squad this season, it’s that they never give up. The same was true on Wednesday, as the Warriors made a nearly-miraculous second-half rally in the opening round of the Region XI tournament to extend their season.
In the end, however, IHCC’s rally from a three-goal deficit wasn’t quite enough against Dakota County. The Blue Knights used a four-goal run, including the first three goals of the second half, to overcome a hat trick by Albia native Brady Anderson to earn a 5-3 win over the Warriors on the IHCC on-campus soccer field.
The IHCC season may be over, but at least it ended with a fighting effort. That’s all Seigle wanted to see.
“I’ve always preached to the guys that the true character of a team doesn’t come out when you’re winning. It comes out when you’re losing,” Seigle said. “We got ourselves in a hole and we could have quit, but our guys showed they’re fighters. We’re going to keep fighting and we fought our way back and made (Dakota County) have to fight back for all 90 minutes.”
It was a fitting way for the Warriors’ season to end, considering how it started. IHCC struggled with injuries and inconsistent play, winning just two of their first 13 matches.
The Warriors rallied in the second half of the regular season, winning four of their last six, including 2-1 victories at home over Iowa Lakes and Marshalltown to earn their first home field playoff game. IHCC nearly carried that momentum forward into their first trip to Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines for this weekend’s ICCAC semifinals.
“There’s no question we fought (Wednesday). We’ll fight against anybody. We’ll play anyone and make them fight for it. Nobody gave up. We kept on pushing and gave it our all,” Anderson said. “That surge in the second half really got us going.”
It was a surge that came out of nowhere after IHCC fell behind 4-1 midway through the second half. Back-to-back goals by Rodrigo Galvan was followed up by Galvan finding Miguel Lopez Varela for a third goal in an eight-minute span to help Dakota County snap a 1-1 halftime tie.
With minutes remaining in their season, Anderson drew a foul while attacking the Dakota County net. After scoring the first goal of the day in the 11th minute to give IHCC a 1-0 lead, Anderson scored the Warriors’ second goal on the penalty kick in the 77th minute to pull the Warriors within two.
Indian Hills awoke after the penalty kick and immediately attacked Dakota County again. The result of the attack was a third goal by Anderson, his second in less then two minutes, that pulled IHCC suddenly within 4-3 while awakening the crowd at the Warriors’ soccer complex.
“They really got a few cheap goals in there. They weren’t hard-fought like our goals were,” Anderson said. “Once we got that one goal back (on the penalty kick), it took a lot of pressure off. Our guys just kept attacking and got it back within one.”
“There’s only so much I can tell them on the sidelines. I need the guys to pump each other up out there and they found a way to do that,” Seigle added.
IHCC’s sudden momentum surge was quieted just four minutes after cutting the lead to one. Dakota County (12-5) countered the Warriors’ rally with Sikiru Kareem’s goal that clinched the Blue Knights’ trip Saturday to Des Moines to face third-ranked Iowa Western.
Indian Hills, meanwhile, wraps up the season with a record of 6-11-4 and another positive step for the program with an extra home match in postseason play. IHCC will look to continue building their program up next season.
“I think the biggest thing we’re looking for is more quality players,” Seigle said. “We just need the same depth other schools have. I’d like to be able to have that depth to adjust to cards and injuries to take this program to a new level.”
“It was great to finally host a playoff game here. It was our biggest game of the year and we had a lot of great support,” Anderson added.
The season for the IHCC women ended on Tuesday as the Warriors (2-17-2) lost to Iowa Lakes, 12-0, in the opening round of Region XI play.
“We were scoreless for the first 30 minutes, then it just kind of got away from us,” Seigle said of the Indian Hills women. “I think they’ve really fought hard as the season has gone along.”