Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Michael Nelson has scored a lot of goals in his three seasons in a West High uniform.
The West High single-season scoring leader with 36 goals a year ago Nelson has exactly 60 goals in his prep career.
His most recent two goals are among the most memorable for Nelson.
Nelson scored a pair of second-half goals as Class 4A sixth-ranked West High pulled away for a 5-0 win over Dubuque Hempstead (6-8) on senior night at Barker Field in Iowa City.
“Of course it was special on senior night to get a couple goals that’s definitely a good ender,” Nelson said. “This isn’t our last game here but it’s kind of a farewell to the seniors so it’s really nice to leave with a couple of goals.”
Nelson scored twice in the final 17:04 on Tuesday, his ninth and 10th goals of the season, as West High (12-2) secured its eighth consecutive win.
“Our coach switched formations and that helped a lot to open up the field,” Nelson said. “We had plenty of scoring opportunities we just had to take care of them.”
At this point any goal is special for Nelson.
After setting the West High single season scoring record a year ago Nelson needed offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus sustained while playing in August.
Nearly nine months removed from surgery Nelson is back on the field and back to doing what he does best, going full speed and putting the ball in the net.
“It’s one of those things as a coach you have to not be frustrated with him because he is going through something that I’ve never had to go through and the bravery of Michael sometimes puts him in a position to have body contact,” West High coach Brad Stiles said. “Every time he does that you think ‘we’ve gone through this once before we don’t want to do it again’ but he keeps hopping up thankfully.”
Nelson missed the first three matches of the season but returned to the field nearly a month ago.
His first goal of the season came in a win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson on April 18.
Nelson has scored nine goals in nine matches since and West High is 10-1 since his return.
“Coming from a knee injury I had little hopes of playing to be honest,” Nelson said. “Coming back and playing is definitely giving me a lot of enjoyment because I was really looking forward to this year.”
Nelson helped spark a spirited second half performance from West High on Tuesday.
The Trojans led 1-0 at the half on the strength of an Ismail Mohamed goal.
West High went to work quickly after intermission.
Daniel Fuentes scored on a free kick in the 46th minute and Ahmed Taha made it 3-0 Trojans with a goal less than seven minutes later.
“We are playing some good soccer up front I think with this team it really has to do with who is on for the day,” Stiles said. “We had some lineups that worked today and a week ago that lineup didn’t work at all so then you start mixing and matching the puzzle pieces and if somebody gets hot on this team you ride them.”
Nelson put the finishing touches on the win with a pair of senior night goals.
He knocked in a shot from close range in the 63rd minute and capped the scoring with a goal in the 71st minute.
“I think in the first half he might have been a little bit overwhelmed with the night and didn’t find the right lanes and the right passes,” Stiles said of Nelson. “To be able to finish a couple in the second half I think he should have a lot of confidence going forward.”