By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Midfielders can spend an entire soccer matching alternating between offense and defense.
That ability to rotate between an attacking threat and a defensive stalwart is part of makes midfielders like Jonah Dancer so valuable.
During his first three seasons at City High Dancer has done plenty of transitioning.
Dancer went from a back-up as a freshman to a starter and major contributor for the Little Hawks’ state runner-up team last season.
This year has been the biggest transition yet for the junior midfielder and Dancer is making it smoothly.
“He is transitioning, he is transitioning into the role of now I am the guy and sometimes being the guy is not easy,” City High coach Jose Michel Fajardo said. “It’s very easy to be the second guy but when you become the guy it’s a different story and I think he’s doing a good job.”
Dancer scored nine goals and had nine assists in his first two seasons, with five of those goals coming last year during City High’s 20-1 season that ended with a state runner-up finish.
This season Dancer is one of the leaders of a City High team off to a 5-0 start and ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.
“It’s definitely helped me a lot if I hadn’t played the last two years I don’t think I’d be the same player I am today,” Dancer said. “I couldn’t be the leader I try to be on the field with the experiences of the past two seasons.”
Last season Dancer was part of a balanced City High attack that featured seven players with at least five goals.
He has already eclipsed that total this season, scoring a team-high six goals in five matches.
“I have definitely been trying to push the ball forward a little bit more than I did before,” Dancer said. “I’ve been playing a little bit higher than I was last year. We lost some guys that scored goals for us last year so players have to step up and I’m trying my best to do that.”
Four of the six goals for Dancer this season came in a 10-1 win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson last Tuesday.
Two days later seven different Little Hawks scored in a 7-0 win over Dubuque Senior and Dancer was not one of them.
Even with the loss of six starters City High has already flashed a similar offensive balance to what it displayed a season ago.
Seven different players have scored at least two goals to help City High score 28 goals during its 5-0 start.
“Obviously, I’d like to score a bunch of goals or have a ton of assists but right now I think we are a team where nobody is a superstar,” Dancer said. “We are all good players who can make plays and work together to get results.”
Against Jefferson, Dancer was in highly involved in the City High attack.
In other matches, he has been utilized more as a defender.
Either way is a fit for Dancer who has helped City High to a 41-4 record over the past three seasons.
“He has been there when this team has been successful,” Fajardo said. “His freshman year he did not play as much but last year he was a big, big part of it so he has seen what it takes to have that success.”
Part of the continuing transition for Dancer this season has been the addition of a larger leadership role.
Dancer joins teammate Jackson Meyer as the lone junior captains for City High.
“He is a great kid outside of the soccer field so that right away brings the leadership that you need,” Fajardo said. “On the field, he is not a kid that is going to complain, he is always in the front of everything if its fitness or anything that we do and always willing to work hard.”
While Dancer is valuable as an attacker and defender in the midfielder the leadership component is the most important aspect he brings to the field.
His ability to relate to the younger players on the City High roster is invaluable to the team’s dynamic.
“I’ve been here for a while and I know what it feels like,” Dancer said. “To be able to put myself in their shoes I know it helps.”