Set pieces don’t get executed more perfectly.
Scout Crow’s assist on a pitch perfect corner kick connected perfectly to Andy Staiert who headed in a goal to break a deadlocked 1-1 tie and give Glenwood the lead for good in a 3-1 Class 2A Substate championship victory over Harlan Saturday.
For Staiert, the Rams’ top defensive sweeper, his second goal of the season couldn’t have come at a bigger moment.
“Andy has been able to jump higher than everybody all season,” said Glenwood coach Shane Keeling said. “He’s had to play sweeper almost all season for us and teams have loaded up on our set pieces so we said why not? Let’s get some additional guys up in the box and Andy is definitely a difference maker.”
With the win the Rams advance to this week’s state soccer tournament for the first time since 2011.
“You want instant gratification as a coach and a player and these guys hard work and perseverance has shown in how they’ve fought back and come out ahead,” Keeling said. “Every time we’ve gotten down, we’ve found a way to fight back. The fact that we can do that and keep prevailing makes this that much sweeter.”
Harlan never made the comeback easy for the Rams. After scoring first, just as they did in a tough, 2-1 loss to the Rams in April, the Cyclones nursed their 1-0 lead at times, determined to play defense to slow the Glenwood attack.
Brandon Bichel scored unassisted for the Rams before halftime in a defensive-minded first 40 minutes.
The second half, Glenwood dictated play to the Cyclones.
“We made just a few adjustments,” Keeling said. “The players had good recognition of what was going on, that at the back they were looking to counter and dropping guys back across the middle. We understood there was a gaping whole in the middle and when we understood that we knew we could take that middle and play to our style of possession.”
After Staiert’s goal in the game’s 53rd minute, Jacob Anderson added an insurance goal 11 minutes later, also on a header off Ryan Phillips’ assist, to complete the scoring.
The Rams were shutout 3-0 by A-D-M in last year’s substate final by on their home field.
“We were close last season,” Keeling said of his team’s loss to A-D-M. “We felt like we should have had it last season. There’s no words to put on this moment.”