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Knaack-out: No. 3 Rebels top Decorah
April 30, 2017

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REINBECK - Bryce Schick had eight saves for the Class 1A No. 3 Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys. Avery Dugger had six for Decorah. When the final horn sounded, Dugger would be wishing he had two more to tie.

Erik Knaack found the back of the net twice, once in each half, to help the Rebels (4-0) to a 2-0 revenge win against the Vikings (2-1) Thursday night at home. A 2-1 loss to the Vikings was the first of three losses for the Rebels last year.

It was a tale of two halves, that saw Decorah get much more aggressive in the latter stanza. Andrew Kozelka and company made the Rebels' defense work, testing the likes of Caden Kickbush and Schick's goalie skills for the final 40 minutes. As a team, Decorah put eight shots on goal of their 20 total. GC/G-R head coach Jon Dinsdale said he would've liked to see the Rebels on the offensive front a little more than they were Thursday night. But they'll take the win any way they can get it.

"Offense is where we want to be and that's where anyone should want to be," Dinsdale said. "I lost an all-state goalie, an all-state middle defender and I lost a three-year starter on the left side defense. So, my defense really has to step up this year. Right now, I'm just trying to figure out where everyone fits."

So far, the Rebels are meshing nicely. Kickbush had two clears to save goals deep on the defensive side, and freshman Eli Thede, despite being a smaller member of the Rebels, played the field as if he was 6-foot-5, aggressive against the tall Decorah defenders.

Walker Thede took a strike in the 15th minute that ricocheted off Dugger's hands, and Knaack was there to pick up the rebound. Fundamentals were more a part of the first Rebel score than anything.

"We've always been taught to crash, even if it's not a good shot," Knaack said. "There's always a chance the goalie's going to mess up and we'll get a rebound shot like that."

Knaack's second score came out of a scrum at the top of the 18-foot box. He maneuvered his way through traffic and fired a strike right on by Dugger. That was all they needed for the win.

"I just didn't want them to score at all against us," Knaack said. "When we had 10 minutes left in the game, and we were up 2-0, I decided I was going to go back and Walker was going to go up. I really wanted to help keep the clean sheet."

The Rebels put eight shots on goal out of their 13 total. Throughout the night, the Rebels remained disciplined and intentionally about how often they set up their offense, and how they went about attempting to score.

"My two things are ball control and communication," Dinsdale said. "That's really what I want our boys to do. They did a heck of a job communicating tonight, but our ball control could've been a little better. You're going to have off night, and we've already got another game [tonight] already. We have plenty of speed, but I want to use everything we have that the team provides."

Right now, Dinsdale is working on fitting everyone in the right place, putting a puzzle together to paint the perfect picture for June.

GC/G-R hosts Denver tonight at 5:30 p.m. in Reinbeck.

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck 2, Decorah 0 At Reinbeck

First Half

GC/G-R - Erik Knaack, 15:34

Second Half

GC/G-R - Erik Knaack, 68:51

Goalkeepers - DEC: Avery Dugger (8 shots on goal-6 saves); GC/G-R: Bryce Schick (8-8)

Shots - DEC 20, GC/G-R 13

Shots on goal - DEC 8, GC/G-R 9

Corner Kicks - DEC 2, GC/G-R 4

Yellow Cards - Dawson Bauer, DEC, 25:59; Thomas Mussig, GC/G-R, 25:59.

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