COUNCIL BLUFFS — Brendan Stephany hopped around and yelled encouragements to his teammates. He wore lots of layers.
But the best way the Council Bluffs St. Albert goalkeeper found to stay warm was making an assortment of circus-like saves to spark his boys soccer team to a city victory.
Trae Tietsort scored in the ninth minute and the Falcon defense took care of the rest in a 1-0 victory over Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln at a frigid City Park on Tuesday evening. It marked the third straight one-goal victory for St. Albert in the annual matchup.
“I'd rather it be 3-0 or 4-0,” Stephany said. “But 1-0 always feels good.”
The senior keeper made sure Abraham Lincoln wouldn't get on the board with a series of spectacular plays in the net as part of a 10-save effort. With 12 seconds left before halftime, his all-out dive to his left stopped a line shot from Lynx freshman Luis Camacho. He knocked away a close-range blast from Miguel Espinoza from his belly in the 72nd minute to prevent overtime.
“I don't want to say they're routine, because they're not,” Stephany said. “But the types of shots (the coaches) give me before games really help set me up. Make the little saves, and when you make the big ones, that's when you know you're doing well.”
It was a fitting performance for a rivalry heavy on emotion. Abraham Lincoln (3-6) was issued four yellow cards and generally seemed frustrated after scoring 11 goals in its last two games. The home squad also misfired on a handful of clean looks throughout.
Tietsort got Iowa Class 1-A No. 4 St. Albert going with a breakaway goal early on. Though the Falcons (5-3) only took seven shots in the second half, two bounced off poles in the final 10 minutes to keep tensions high.
“It's a city game; tempers get flared and guys want to prove themselves,” Abraham Lincoln coach Matt Wieners said. “I was disappointed in all the cards, but it's nothing lots of running won't help.”
Falcons coach Tom Lorkovic said the triumph served as a good test for a young group. After their planned trip to the loaded Iowa City Reina tournament got washed out last weekend, St. Albert is relishing any chance to get on the field with a quality opponent.
The back line enjoyed a particularly good day while helping pitch a shutout. First-year sophomores Marty Shudak and Miles Cannon, along with returning sophomore Gage Bowman and junior Sam Sneed, harassed would-be Abraham Lincoln scorers. They helped contain Espinoza and Camacho, who entered Tuesday with 13 combined goals.
“We have a lot of soccer to play,” Lorkovic said. “I'm glad we're playing these bigger schools and tougher competition. It prepares us for our playoff run.”
Both teams returned to the wet field after weather wiped away multiple games in the last week. The Lynx get back to action Thursday at Riverside, while St. Albert will welcome Lewis Central for another Council Bluffs showdown Monday.
“A city game brings out the best — but also the worst — in all our players,” Stephany said. “It's a lot of fun.”
CB St. Albert (5-3) ........................... 1 0—0
CB Abraham Lincoln (3-6) ........................... 0 0—0
Goals: SA, Trae Tietsort.