By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – After tying for the team lead in goals last season Ben Carr is expected to be the top finisher in the Solon offensive attack this spring.
The senior forward didn’t need to find the net to have a big offensive impact in Thursday’s season opener against Iowa Mennonite.
Carr assisted on every Solon goal as the Spartans opened the season with a 3-0 win over IMS on a cool and overcast evening at Spartan Stadium.
“I thought we were moving really quick and fast and when we play fast we are one step ahead of the other team,” Carr said. “I thought that’s what we did well tonight.”
Jorel Justus and Luke Yetley were the beneficiaries of Carr crosses that resulted in first-half goals.
Isaac Vang added a goal off a Carr assist in the 77th minute as Solon defeated IMS in its season opener for the second straight season.
The three assists were a career high for Carr who ranked second on the team with eight assists last year.
“He’s smart,” Solon coach Jeremy McMurrin said of Carr. “He beat some defenders and could have gone to goal looked up and saw open guys and found them and that’s what we are going to ask him to do.”
Carr joined departed seniors Brandan Childs and Dylan Doyle in a trio that accounted for 33 of Solon’s 46 goals last season.
The graduation off Childs and Doyle left Carr as the only returning Spartan to record more than three goals.
Carr showed Thursday he’s capable of picking up the slack.
“His role is definitely amplified from last year and he’s capable of that,” McMurrin said. “He’s one of our captains, he’s a good leader. He’s not the perfect soccer player but he’s a great athlete and he understands the game.”
Carr helped give Solon the lead less than 15 minutes into the game when he beat a defender up the sideline and slotted a pass back in front of the goal to Justus who tapped it in for a 1-0 lead.
Solon upped the lead to 2-0 in the 32nd minute when Carr slipped a nearly identical cross into the box and this time Yetley provided the finish to put Solon up 2-0.
“We work on it in practice, attacking the post and the slotting it back when the defense shifts towards me,” Carr said. “I just tried to dump the ball off around the pk mark of the 18.”
Solon led 2-0 at halftime and junior goalkeeper Eric Weetman came up with a pair of nifty second-half saves to keep the margin at two.
The best effort from Weetman was a charging save early in the second half that kept the score 2-0.
“Eric has been a keeper for us all three years and he did a good job,” McMurrin said. “He made a huge save for us which is what keepers are called upon for. One or two saves make a big different and that one was a huge save for us.”
Vang capped the scoring when he took a through pass from Carr on the left side of the box and beat the IMS keeper in the 77th minute.
“It was a just really well done on Ben’s part,” Vang said. “We communicated well and we got the goal.”
Solon returns to action on Saturday when it hosts its own Spartan Classic.
The Spartans will face Monticello at 8 a.m. and Mediapolis at 1 p.m. in pool play before playing its final game at either 3:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m. or 6 p.m.
“We definitely have some things that we can clean up but the first game of the year we had a good result and that’s what matters,” McMurrin said. “I felt like our movement of the ball could be a little bit better but after the first game you always have tons of stuff that you can work on.”