ALBIA — For the second-straight week, nasty weather conditions greeted several area sports team. As a result, many event were wiped off the slate as schools continue to hope for much more spring-like conditions later this month.
Head coach Aaron Koester, however, has watched his Albia boys soccer team stay right on track this season once again braving the conditions to secure a win at home on Monday. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor the visiting Centerville Big Reds could stop the Blue Demons from building off a solid second-place showing at the Solon Tournament with a 7-0 win on Monday, completing the only area spring sporting event that stayed on the calendar despite a day in which area residents were greeted to snow on the ground and cold conditions throughout the afternoon.
"Just this past weekend, we were playing in 15-degree temperatures up at Solon," Koester said. "In our very first match, we were playing in the sleet, so we're pretty used to these type of conditions. Hopefully, it will make us a mentally tougher team."
Monday's match, the second at home for the Blue Demons, was very in doubt just hours before kickoff as snow and ice continued to coat both the bleachers and soccer field at Albia. After a midday thaw allowed conditions to be playable, the Blue Demons heated up scoring three goals in the opening 20 minutes on the way to earning the fourth win in six matches this season.
"The stands being too slippery was about the only thing we were worried about when it came to determining whether to play or not," Koester said. "I was really pleased with how we played in Solon, beating the fourth-ranked team in Class 1A on their home turf. We're typically starting four freshmen and a freshmen goalie, but the guys have stepped up."
The Big Reds, meanwhile, are now 0-2 on the season having lost in its season opener last week to the same Pella Christian team that dropped a 4-2 decision to Albia last Monday in the Blue Demons' first match. Centerville was outshot 15-2 by the Eagles and allowed several more scoring opportunities to Albia early, allowing the Blue Demons to open its four-goal lead in the first 31 minutes.
"We're still inexperienced at some key positions," said Centerville head boys soccer coach Tino Terrones. "I believe we'll be a successful team by the end of the season. The kids are very coachable. They're working hard to become winners again."
Albia finished with 16 shots on goal to just two for Centerville in the win, nearly identical numbers to the Big Reds match with Pella Christian. Sophomore Gage Moorman continued to thrive under pressure, making 16 impressive stops many of which came in a 20-minute stretch in the second half as continued to seek its sixth goal before Devin Robinson finally found the back of the net in the 66th minute to put Albia up 6-0.
"This was Centerville's second match and our sixth, but knowing what they saw from Pella Christian in their opener, the hardest thing to do is to not let down your level of intensity," Koester said. "It's a hard game to coach and a hard match for the players just because their mindset might not be as focused. It's kind of a potential trap game, so you try to focus on fundamentally doing the things that you do well even better."
Adam Waber put the Blue Demons ahead in the early minutes, scoring off a corner kick following a hand ball call on Centerville. Emilio Palpmares then scored the first of his two goals on a penalty kick 10 minutes in to put Albia up 2-0.
Landon Noe added a goal in the 15th minute before Palpmares struck in traffic with under 15 minutes left in the first half, putting Albia up 4-0 at the half. Ian Greiner scored less than five minutes into the second half before Robinson and Noe both added goals late in the match. Noe also finished with two assists.
"I'm very pleased with where are taking over a 3-12 team from last year," Koester said. "I knew we had good senior leadership, but I didn't really know what our personality would be. Being 4-2 is a good start. Our focus all year is to take it one match at a time, but beating a team like Solon that went to state last year is a good momentum and confidence builder for our younger players as we continue to get game experience."
Albia will move on to face Oskaloosa on Thursday night in Mahaska County. Centerville, meanwhile, faces Chariton at home.
Scott Jackson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.