WEST DES MOINES - Marshalltown coach Creighton Jenness called Kreighton Miller's performance inside the net Tuesday the best performance by a goalie he has ever seen at the high school level.
It was Miller's 18 saves and the Class 3A No. 11 Bobcats' flurry of second-half goals that propelled Marshalltown's boys' soccer team to a 3-0 win over No. 13 West Des Moines Valley at Tiger Stadium.
He played absolutely lights out," MHS coach Creighton Jenness said of Miller's performance. "I can't even explain how good he was tonight. He came out when he needed to come out and made all the right decisions. He was amazing tonight."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS junior Kreighton Miller, right, catches the ball in front of West Des Moines Valley’s Tui Hunkin during the Bobcats’ 3-0 win over the Tigers on Tuesday. Miller stopped 18 shots in the victory.
The victory was Marshalltown's fourth straight, and the Bobcats recorded their seventh shutout of the season while improving to 15-1.
"I never thought I would see our score up there higher than Valley's ever in my high school career, especially on their Senior Night," said Miller. "I am excited, and I am very happy with this win."
The Tigers dominated total shots (30-7) and shots on goal (18-4) but three second-half goals from Marshalltown was enough to spoil Valley's Senior Night. The Tigers fell to 9-7-1 on the season.
Marshalltown 3, Valley 0
At West Des Moines
MHS - David Gomez (Martin Chavarria), 41:38
MHS - Mi Reh (Martin Chavarria), 51:04
MHS - Mi Reh (Austin Lovin), 74:28
Goalkeepers - MHS: Kreighton Miller (18 shots on goal-18 saves); VAL: Jacob Sprecher (4-1).
Shots - MHS 7, VAL 30.
Shots on goal - MHS 4, VAL 18.
Fouls - MHS 9, VAL 8.
Corner kicks - MHS 0, VAL 4.
Yellow Cards - MHS: Martin Chavarria; VAL: Calvin Hean.
"Words can't express how well we played against a high quality team on their Senior Night," Jenness said. "It means the world. It gets you back to really loving and enjoying soccer. I don't know what to say. It was amazing."
West Des Moines Valley entered the match as the battle-tested team, having played several of the top squads in the state. But even though Marshalltown hasn't played as tough of a schedule, the Bobcats proved they are a team to be reckoned with as the season heads toward the final stretch.
"We had one shot in the first half," said Jenness. "After that, we played possession soccer and scored three goals against one of the best teams in the state.
"When we play possession soccer, we can beat anybody."
The Bobcats had just one shot attempt in the first half but struck quick in the second as David Gomez took a pass from Martin Chavarria, hit it past Valley goalie Jacob Sprecher and gave the Bobcats a 1-0 advantage less than 2 minutes into the final half.
Chavarria, Class 3A's leading goal scorer, did not tally his 19th goal Tuesday but had two assists as he also set up Mi Reh's first tally with 29 minutes to play in the match.
That put MHS up 2-0 and Reh's final goal in the closing minutes put the finishing touches on one of the biggest wins in recent program history for the Bobcats.
"I heard some of the Valley players say that (Chavarria) was the only guy on our team that can score," Jenness said. "And then he goes out and has two fantabulous assists. I don't even know if that's a word. But he played today like you need to play at the next level."
Chavarria could have taken the shot on Reh's first goal but made the extra pass to his teammate and Reh found himself with an open net and an easy scoring chance.
Gomez did not get credit for the assist or the goal on the play, but his individual effort in the open field kicked off an impressive string of passes for the Bobcats.
"Everyone on the field and in the stands probably thought (Chavarria) was going to take the shot on Reh's goal, but he did the next best thing and made an incredible pass," Jenness said. "He impacted this game without scoring a single goal."
Miller could have not been better in the net for the Bobcats. He took some of the Tigers' best punches and turned every single one of them away. It was a brilliant performance from a goalkeeper gaining more and more confidence with every match he plays.
"You get all the nerves out after those first two saves," Miller said. "I find games like this sometimes easier to save shots than those games where you go 10 minutes without any action. I find these games easier to stay focused."
Chavarria has been a marked man for opposing defenses all season long. He proved Tuesday that he doesn't have to score goals to impact games. West Des Moines Valley had won five of its last six matches coming into Tuesday's top 13 showdown. The Tigers also beat Urbandale 4-0. MHS' only loss this year was a 3-2 double overtime defeat to the J-Hawks. Chavarria and West Des Moines Valley's Calvin Hean were both issued yellow cards in the second half. The Bobcats return to the pitch Friday when they take on No. 14 Ames. "Our team has progressed throughout the year, and I am excited to see how we play during the playoffs against the rest of the state," Miller said. "I kind of see us as a Cinderella team. Teams may look past us sometimes and we can use that as a big advantage."