Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Entering the season the question for West Branch was how would the Bears fare in their first season without graduated all-stater Peyton Miller who accounted for 74 goals the previous two seasons.
The answer has been – just fine.
Or more accurately much better than just fine.
Class 1A third-ranked West Branch continued the best start in program history on Monday improving to 10-0 with a 7-1 win over Anamosa (2-7) on windy evening at West Branch High School.
“Coming into the season we really didn’t know how good we were going to be because we lost a lot of good players but everyone has kind of stepped up,” West Branch senior defender Aiden Shields said. “We’ve had a few new faces that have come into the program and have helped out a lot.”
A few notable faces are missing from last year’s team that set a program record for wins in a 13-3 season.
Miller, who was among the most dynamic goal scorers in the league and fellow senior Gage Gingerich graduated after accounting for 45 of the Bears 76 goals a year ago.
West Branch hasn’t skipped a beat this season using a team effort to pick up the graduated goal scoring slack.
Junior Joe Hamann scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season in Monday’s win and headlines a group of five players with at least four goals this season.
“We lost a lot of good players like Peyton and Gage but Joe has really stepped up,” West Branch junior Trenton Schutte said. “He has become that player that can really go get the ball and score goals.”
Sophomore newcomer Christian Scire had both first-half goals for West Branch on Monday as the Bears led 2-0 at the half.
Scire completed the hat trick with a goal with 23:33 remaining as West Branch scored five goals in the opening 26 minutes of the second half to open a 7-0 lead.
“We have several kids with Pedro (Mitom) and Christian (Scire) who have been playing their whole lives but are playing for the first time and have helped a lot,” West Branch coach Ted Miller said. “It took several games for everyone to figure out how to play together but we are playing much better as the season has gone on.”
After opening the season with back-to-back 2-1 wins over Cascade and Tipton the Bears have amped up the offense of late.
West Branch has scored four or more goals in seven of it’s last eight games and Monday was its fifth game with five or more goals.
“We thought we were going to be really good last year and we lost a lot of players from that team and this year we have a lot of new players,” West Branch junior goalkeeper Shae Farmer said. “We are a new team and we didn’t really gel right away at the start but once we’ve started gelling it’s really coming together.”
With three goals on Monday Scire now has 12 goals on the season. Cameron Gingerich, Schutte, and Elliot Hinkhouse all added goals for West Branch in the win on Monday.
West Branch will host Sigourney (6-3) on Tuesday before a four-match stretch to close the regular season that features three ranked opponents.
The Bears travel to No. 12 Dyersville Beckman and host second-ranked Regina and fifth-ranked West Liberty.