Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – It goes without saying that West High coach Brad Stiles doesn’t like losing matches.
Toward the top of the list of matches Stiles and his West High squad least want to end up on the short end of is the annual matchup with cross-town rival City High.
As it turns out this season a loss to the Little Hawks was exactly what West High needed.
Class 3A seventh-ranked West High has won eight consecutive games since a loss to third-ranked City High last month.
The West High winning streak reached eight on Friday with a 6-0 victory over Class 1A No. 13 Dubuque Wahlert (6-7, 5-5) at Barker Field in Iowa City.
West High improved to 13-3 on the season and moved to 10-1 in Mississippi Valley Conference play with the win.
“That match (against City High) was definitely the turning point because I didn’t want to make a ton of changes before hand but I knew some changes had to get done,” Stiles said. “No one really likes to lose the rivalry game but I think it kind of put us in the right mindset that things had to change.”
Things have certainly changed for West High since the 2-1 loss to City High on April 20.
Stiles changed the lineup, moving seniors Patrick Shirazo and Harry Zielinski into the back. Equally importantly was a change in attitude that followed the loss to City High that dropped West High to 5-3 on the season.
“We were hoping for a better result and after that we realized that we weren’t at the place that we wanted to be at,” Shirazi said. “After that loss we took it forward and worked hard.”
The results have been impressive.
West High has outscored opponents 27-3 during its current winning streak that features wins over three ranked foes including a road win at 3A second-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie.
“That loss showed us what we had to work on,” West High sophomore Brody Shilling said. “It kind of hit us after what we have to work on. I would say from there we had something to work for.”
The most recent West High win came in dominant fashion.
West High had opportunities to breakthrough early but a few missed chances and some strong play by Dubuque Wahlert keeper Cameron Haugen kept the match scoreless.
Gada Ambo broke the scoreless tie when he lofted a shot from outside the box over the outstretched hand of Haugen and into the upper right hand corner of the goal in the 29th minute.
Schilling sliced through the Wahlert defense and finished from inside the box to put West High up 2-0 in the 34th minute.
“The goal by Gada was a big boost,” Schilling said. “We weren’t so sure but once he got that in it got our confidence going and we were able to go forward and keep getting more.”
West High led 2-0 at intermission but wasted no time putting the match away in the second half.
Four different Trojans scored goals in the opening 19 minutes of the second half.
Ahmed Abdalla made it 3-0 with a goal in the 50th minute and less than a minute later Schilling scored his second of the game to make it 4-0.
“I told the guys at halftime they had too many options in the first 20 minutes of the game they didn’t know which option to pick so they just didn’t pick any of them,” Stiles said. “The second half was much better and they had more composure around the goal.”
Josh Jasek and Nadim Teghanemt each added goals to push the West High lead to 6-0.
“I think we are starting to click better together,” Shirazi said. “We had a bunch of new faces at the start of the season and we are just learning how to play better together.”
West High doesn’t have to leave the confines of Barker Field again until the state tournament. The Trojans host eighth-ranked Cedar Rapids Washington and Waterloo West to close the regular season and will open postseason play on May 23 at home against the winner of Dubuque Hempstead and Western Dubuque.
“We are working well and I think that will continue,” Shirazi said. “Hopefully we will get a good result in substate and state.”