There is a definite good news/bad news vibe surrounding the upcoming three-matches stretch for the Solon boys’ soccer team.
The good news for the Class 1A 11th-ranked Spartans is that all three matches during the intense five-day span are at Spartan Stadium.
For a Solon team that has played nine of its first 10 matches on the road, playing at home certainly falls in the good news category.
The bad news is that the three matches from Friday to Tuesday may be the toughest of the season.
“It will be nice to get back home and get on the turf which we are used to training on every day. Just to get back in front of our home crowd will be nice so we are excited to get home,” Solon coach Jeremy McMurrin said. “It’s not going to be an easy stretch at home but at least we are at home.”
Solon (5-5) will play three straight games against teams ranked in the top five beginning on Friday when it hosts Class 2A No. 3 Central Clinton.
Class 1A No. 5 Regina comes to Spartan Stadium for a nonconference match on Saturday before Solon wraps up the challenging trio of games against 1A top-ranked Dyersville Beckman next Tuesday.
“If this was baseball that’s Murderer’s Row you are facing,” McMurrin said. “It’s three straight games against teams ranked in the top five in the state so it’s going to be a challenge.”
There’s more good news for the Spartans, however.
Solon brings a three-match winning streak into Friday’s game after claiming its third straight WaMaC win with a 2-0 victory at Maquoketa on Tuesday.
Four of the Spartans’ five losses this season have come at the hands of ranked teams.
“It’s nice to get three wins in a row and get a little confidence boost coming into these next three games,” McMurrin said. “That’s the way you need to come into a stretch like this.”
The Spartans are also getting healthy, another good element for its challenge upcoming stretch.
McMurrin believes once the Spartans get fully healthy they could be a tough out come postseason time.
Junior Dylan Doyle and Brandan Childs have kept the Spartans afloat during their difficult 10-game stretch to open the season.
Doyle has scored in four straight matches and has a team-high eight goals.
Childs has three goals and leads the team with four assists.
“We had some injuries and the kids are starting to get healthy, I’m not trying to make excuses for our record but there have been a lot of factors that have gone into this crazy first half of the season for us,” McMurrin said. “We’ll get by these three games and see what we are really made of and after these three we’ll re-group and hopefully be playing at a high level going into the postseason.”
• GIRLS’ RANKINGS UPDATE: West High took over the top spot in the Class 3A rankings released by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union on Friday.
In the Class 1A rankings, Regina remained second while Clear Creek Amana held firm at No. 4.
Solon moved up two spots to No. 7.
• BOYS’ RANKINGS UPDATE: City High slipped a spot in the latest Class 3A rankings released by the Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association, dropping from second to third while West High climbed from 15th to 13th.
Regina dropped from No. 1 to fifth in the Class 1A poll while Solon climbed a spot to No. 11.
Clear Creek Amana remained No. 8 in the Class 2A poll.
• A LOOK AHEAD: Top-10 matchups continue throughout the area in the coming days starting with the West High boys hosting Class 2A No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier on Thursday.
Third-ranked City High will travel to No. 7 Cedar Rapids Prairie on Tuesday in what could be a battle of unbeaten teams.
On the girls’ side, Clear Creek Amana will travel to Regina on Tuesday in a matchup of top-four teams.