ALBIA – You can forgive Landon Noe if he needs to get reacquainted with the Albia High School boys soccer field.
After all, it had been 684 days since the Blue Demons had last played a match.
Noe scored two goals and recorded an assist for Albia in a 4-0 season-opening win over Pella Christian on Monday night. Noe put Albia's first goal of the season on the board, sliding the ball past Pella Christian goalie Hayden Te Grotenhuis in the 11th minute.
Noe had a chance to put Albia's first goal on the board earlier, however, with a penalty kick just over a minute earlier. It took a solid save by Te Grotenhuis, and a mistake by Noe on where to place the ball, to keep the match scoreless.
"There's a little bit of a pothole out there. I thought I had it place on a little patch of grass that wasn't in that pothole," Noe said. "Turns out, it was sunk in there. It wasn't the best placement. I'll remember that next time. I've got it saved in my head."
Noe and Sheffield each scored a pair of goals in the first half and led Albia with 10 shots apiece. The Blue Demons (1-0) allowed just five shots to the Eagles, only one of which required a save from Zach Lawrence, while dominating the action in the second half consistently threatening to add to the lead while collecting 21 of the 23 shots taken between the teams in the final 40 minutes.
"We not only didn't give up a goal defensively, but we didn't give up a lot of opportunities," Albia head soccer coach Aaron Koester said. "We've been really stressing our positioning with our goalie and our back four. It was also really good to see our offense from a lot of our younger players from our freshmen and sophomores, none of whom have played a varsity match."
While the second half ended without a goal being scored, it wasn't for a lack of trying by the Blue Demons. Lance Helm had three shots in his debut for Albia, including a shot that struck the inside of the post leaving the freshman less than an inch away from his first varsity goal.
No matter. The Blue Demons have high hopes that many more chances will come from a roster filled with talent.
"I think it's huge to have those type of opportunities early in a season," Koester said. "We try to possess the ball as much as possible. The attacking third is the hardest part of the game to execute. I think, as we go on through the season, we'll keep moving the ball and continuing to put that pressure on the other team."
For Noe, this season also carries added significants for many of the upperclassmen. Albia had hoped to make huge strides last spring after an 8-12 campaign in 2019 with Ian Greiner and Trevor Cloyed, the top two goal scorers from that season, returning in 2020 for their senior year.
That 2020 campaign never happened as the coronavirus pandemic wiped out any chance for the Blue Demons to make those strides last spring. Now, in 2021, Albia is hoping to make up for lost time.
"We're dedicating the season to those 2020 seniors," Noe said. "We have some high expectations. We missed out on what we thought would be a pretty special 2020 season. We're hoping to shift those hopes to this season."
Albia will hit the road on Thursday competing at Knoxville with a JV/varsity doubleheader scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. The Blue Demons also compete this weekend along with Fairfield and Ottumwa at Solon's Tournament on Saturday.
Albia 4, Pella Christian 0
P.C. 0 0 — 0
Albia 4 0 — 4
Albia — Landon Noe goal (Ben Leshen assist) 10:21
Albia — Adam Sheffield goal (Noe assist) 19:07
Albia — Noe goal (David Fisher assist) 24:37
Albia — Sheffield goal 28:49
Pella Christian: Total Shots — 5 (Nate Greco 2, Dylan Eekhoff, Keagan Fopma, Ty Hugen). Total Saves — 11 (Hayden Te Grotenhuis 11). Total Fouls — 5.
Albia: Total Shots — 31 (Landon Noe 10, Adam Sheffield 10, Lance Helm 3, Cason Noe 3, David Fisher 2, Matteo Bender, Austin Stanley, Sophie Waber). Total Saves — 1 (Zach Lawrence). Total Fouls — 3.