It was a strange, sloppy game at times, played on a pee wee-sized field that led to a lot of barely missed shots, but it was a win, and that was the important end result as the top U10 youth soccer team in the Midwest region, Mid America Premier Red, opened its Illowa League schedule with a 8-2 win over Q-C Legends at Rock Island’s Campbell Sports Complex on Sept. 10.

Premier largely dominated the contest even beyond the final score, peppering the Legends goalie with shots and just missing the goal more than a dozen times with blasts. But with a game that started 15 minutes late due to a referee mixup and was slated on a field that seemed particularly small given Mid America’s recent tournament forays on official sized pitches out of town, the team seemed out of sync to start.

Still, Premier got on the board first, with Lawson Zulu providing the tally off a pass from Jonas Cortez for a 1-0 lead.

Legends proved a tough opponent though, knotting the score at 1-1 a few minutes later.

However, Premier quickly struck back, slapping down the resistance. Jackson Leary stormed in to knock in a rebound of his own shot off goalie to give Premier a 2-1 lead, and then Leary rocketed in a second goal just inside the crossbar for a 3-1 advantage Premier took into halftime.

Premier extended the lead to 4-1 just after the half with Sayden Williams saving a shot, delivering a laser pass to midfielder Adam Donaldson, who shot another pass up to Zulu who found Antonio Sepeda flying in off the far post for a goal that curved passed the outstretched goalie.

Legends weren’t done though. Aggressive play bought them a second goal to creep closer at 4-2.

But their hope for a comeback was short-lived.

The referee’s whistle blew to signal Mid America taking the ball back after the goal, at which point striker Elijah De La Cruz wafted over the ball, barely touching it but creating that split-second diversion and official first strike to allow Zulu to rip a rocket shot from the midfield line that stunned the goalie and soared into the net for a 5-2 lead. Mid America padded the advantage with two more goals for Leary and another by Cortez out as the second half wound down and battled their way to a big win to start their regular conference schedule.

Mid America U10 Red starts Illowa at 1-0 while moving their overall record to 9-0. The team travels to Lincoln this weekend looking to take home its third tournament gold of the young season.

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.