By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – The Class 1A rankings place Solon among the best teams in Class 1A.
The Spartans had an opportunity on Saturday to back up its ranking with a strong performance against two-time defending champion and top-ranked Dyersville Beckman.
Fourth-ranked Solon didn’t get a win on Saturday but the Spartans believe they showed they belong with the state’s best.
Solon played Beckman to a scoreless draw for nearly 60 minutes before falling 2-0 in a WAMAC East Division top-five matchup at wind-swept Spartan Stadium.
“They truly are the measuring stick in 1A, they have won 50 some in a row and I was proud of my guys’ effort all day long,” Solon coach Jeremy McMurrin said. “We gave up one unlucky goal and then we were tired and gave up a goal. That’s what elite does to you and we were playing an elite team.”
Carter White and Riley LeGrand scored goals in the final 23 minutes to lift Dyersville Beckman to its 43rd consecutive win.
Beckman improved to 3-0 with its third consecutive 2-0 decision of the season and hasn’t lost a regular season match since falling to Cedar Rapids Xavier on April 26 of 2014.
“Hopefully it shows that we can play with anyone,” Solon senior Ben Carr said. “We wanted to get a win, they are a great team and soccer can be anyone’s game any day, so hopefully this shows that we can beat anyone if we show up.”
The two teams played to a scoreless draw for the opening 40 minutes.
Despite operating against a stiff wind Solon mounted perhaps the best scoring opportunity of the opening half.
Just less than 10 minutes into the game Solon had a pair of contested shots from inside the box deflected and a rebound shot on the ensuing corner kick was saved by Beckman keeper Sam Stelken.
“I thought honestly in the first half we had better scoring looks and that was going into a tremendous wind,” McMurrin said. “We thought we were in great shape and we started well in the second half but they did what they had to do and that’s why they’ve been so good.”
Beckman finally broke through in the 58th minute when White snuck a shot past Solon keeper Eric Weetman into the upper corner.
Beckman attempted to play a ball into the box and it ricocheted off a Blazer and a pair of Spartan defenders before landing at the feet of White.
The junior put it away to give the Blazers a 1-0 lead and the momentum.
“It was really unlucky,” Vang said. “It probably could have been prevented but it was an unlucky bounce.”
Solon nearly had the equalizer moments later but Stelken made a leaping, one-handed save of a Nathan Tucker attempt.
Beckman then added an insurance goal when LeGrand rocketed a shot just under the crossbar from 30 yards out in the 71st minute.
“That first goal is a deflection, it hits a guy and drops right to another guy’s feet in front of the keeper,” McMurrin said. “The second one, there’s not much you can do about that.”
Solon had another shot at getting on the board in the 77th minute but a Jorel Justus shot from just inside the box was saved.
“I feel like we kept with them and we competed with them all the way,” Vang said. “I felt like we could have won this and that should give us some confidence.”
The loss was the third straight for Solon following a 7-0 start.
Solon dropped a 3-1 decision to 2A No. 8 Hudson and a 3-2 loss to Marion.
Despite the losses McMurrin likes where his team is at and says Saturday’s performance is a positive going forward.
“I feel really good about where we are at,” McMurrin said. “We’ve lost to a couple of highly ranked teams and had a lead on Marion who is another good team, a big physical team. I’m not upset with where we are at we just need to get better every day.”