HUXLEY - A big offensive game from Wade Stocksleger and a steady defense carried Ballard past Ankeny Christian Academy, 4-1, in boys’ soccer May 4 at Rich Strouse Field in Huxley.
Stocksleger netted his second hat-trick of the season. He scored the only goal of the first half and added two more scores over the final 40 minutes to help Ballard pull away.
“I missed a lot of (shots), but I got it in the end,” Stocksleger said. “I couldn’t have done it without all the passes up to me. I’ve really got to thank my team for it.”
Stocksleger’s first goal came on an 8-yard chip shot after he broke down the ACA defense with just over two minutes left in the first half. ACA tied the game on a Gavin Mason penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, but Calvin Jones answered for Ballard eight minutes later with a 23-yard shot into the back of the net.
A great cross pass from Blaine Colman set up Stocksleger’s second goal to give Ballard a 3-1 lead with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. Stocksleger slammed the door on the Eagles with an unassisted goal in the final two minutes.
ACA had all kinds of trouble keeping tabs on Stocksleger. He was constantly running down balls and breaking down the Eagle defense with outstanding dribbling skills.
“That’s what (Ballard head coach) Marcello (Irvin) told me to do — you’ve got to keep on your toes out there,” Stocksleger said. “Back in my sophomore and junior years, I would just stay put and kind of waited for the ball at my feet to run. He’s taught me over the years to just keep moving on the defensive line, so I can be off it as fast as possible. I’ve got to thank him for that.”
Defense also played a big role in the Bomber win.
Ballard only had a couple of breakdowns on the defensive side. The Bombers caught a break with eight minutes left in the first half when an ACA goal was wiped out by an offsides call, and the penalty on the corner kick resulting in Mason’s penalty kick.
Otherwise, the Bomber midfield and defense controlled the game.
“We are pretty happy about the defense,” Ballard center-midfielder Riley Fleener said. “They’re keeping everything calm and stable.”
The strong performance in a losing effort against a Perry team rated No. 6 in Class 2A two days earlier also played a role in Ballard’s win over ACA.
“The Perry game we played superb,” Stocksleger said. “It was probably one of our better games we’ve played. Coming off that definitely carried over to here.”
The win put Ballard at 5-4 on the season. ACA dropped to 5-6.