OTTUMWA — The Indianola girls soccer team spends most of its time running up and down a field turf surface.
The Indians’ home turf is not one that wet weather has a limited negative effect on.
Ottumwa’s Eric Wertheim Field is not field turf. It’s all natural grass and dirt, which turns into soggy mud when you add water.
Monday night, the Indians’ attack was blunted both by a stellar defensive effort by the Bulldogs and a slow, sloppy track at Walsh Soccer Complex. Overnight showers added another inch of rain to a pitch that already absorbed four inches in the past week.
Neither the muddy turf or the Bulldog defense could hold Indianola down for long. The Indians put in a pair of first-half goals, then got a second-half hat trick by Nealey Webster to take a 5-0 win over Ottumwa, who dropped its third straight contest.
Recent history, however, provided a positive aspect to the loss for first-year Bulldogs girls soccer coach Lindsay Safranek.
“We went into this game knowing they beat us 8-0 last year,” Safranek said. “To only be down 2-0 at the half and come out with only a 5-0 loss is an improvement. The girls can be proud of that, but they still have a lot to work on.”
Ottumwa’s defensive effort came in the form of preventing the score to get out of hand early. Despite the slower track, Indianola still managed to get off 37 shots on goal, testing Bulldog goalies Amber Bates and Averi Cash equally.
The Bulldogs countered early, attempting to make several runs at the Indianola net. Despite getting the ball into the Indians’ half of the field several times throughout the game, Ottumwa managed to only get three second half shots off in the contest.
“I think our forwards got so tired trying to get the ball and once they did, they were too exhausted to finish,” Safranek said. “We have to work on our midfield coming up closer and getting those finishes.”
It took Indianola (6-4) over 12 minutes to finally finish an attack with a goal as Jenny Steffan scored off a Kasey Weiedmeier assist. Renae Duffy added a rebound goal 12 minutes later for the Indians’ only other goal in the opening half.
“It would have been nice to get a couple more goals with all the attacking we did,” Indianola head coach Jan Sarlat-Alridge said. “It just seemed like as sticky and muddy as it was, our girls couldn’t finish off as many attacks as we wanted to.”
“We needed to get used to being on grass and being on the turf in the condition it was in. We just needed to keep moving the ball around and keep playing like a team the way we’re used to.”
After a quiet first half, Webster wasted little time getting going offensively in the second half. The Indianola junior scored the first of her three second-half goals just 87 seconds out of halftime and used a second straight Nicole Putz assist to score again just over five minutes later to double the Indians’ lead.
“It’s a lot different playing on grass. We’re so used to playing on turf,” Webster said after firing a game-high seven shots on goal. “It’s difficult to adjust, but we finally got our heads into the game and figured it out.”
It wasn’t just the visitors that again struggled at times with the soggy field conditions. For the second straight game, Ottumwa struggled at home at times with the nuances that come with playing soccer on a wet pitch
“We’re kind of used to that, all of our practices fields are muddy too. Still, it’s difficult when you can’t get the ball to go where you want when it checks up or takes off differently then it would under normal conditions,” Safranek said.
The Bulldog girls, 4-6 on the season, give Wertheim Field a break to hopefully dry out the next few days. With no rain in the immediate forecast, Ottumwa will be back home Friday for a senior night matchup with Fairfield after competing Thursday in CIML Metro action at Des Moines Hoover.
“Hoover beat us 6-0 last year, so that’s a game that will really test us,” Safranek said. “We’re looking forward to the Fairfield game. Being that it’s senior night and being against a team to beat us at home last year, we’re looking at that game as a big one to win for us.”
INDIANOLA 5, OTTUMWA 0
Indianola 2 3 — 5
Ottumwa 0 0 — 0
Indianola — Jenny Steffan goal (Kasey Weiedmeier assist), 12:32.
Indianola — Renae Duffy goal, 24:41.
Indianola — Nealey Webster goal (Nicole Putz assist), 41:27.
Indianola — Webster goal (Putz assist), 46:43.
Indianola — Webster goal (Trista Thomas assist), 75:00.
Indianola: Total Shots — 37 (Webster 7). Total Saves — 3 (Jacklyn Obermeier 3). Total Fouls — 10.
Ottumwa: Total Shots — 3 (Katarina Berg, Kathy Lopez, Monica Trejo). Total Saves — 32 (Amber Bates 18). Total Fouls — 2.