100 goals and Harvard: Junior nearing milestone & an Ivy League commit lead star-powered Dawson soccer

Apr. 27—LAFAYETTE — Dawson coach John Welsch was taken aback when first informed that Mustang star junior Kanoe Bihag's next goal would be the 100th of her career.

Then, in the next moment, it was as if he already knew — which if not a genuine "well, on second thought" moment, would've been stellar comedic timing.

"When you told me that this is 99 knocking on the door for 100, I go, 'wow,'" he said after his team's lightning-shortened 3-0 win over Nederland on Friday. "And then looking back, it's like 'yeah, I see that.'"

He marveled: "There are certain high school programs that might not have 100 goals in three years — you know, the whole team."

Remarkable, rare, and nobody at Dawson seemed to know about it, including Bihag.

A player described by her next-level quickness by her coach — and who will go on an official visit to Duke University next month — scored the team's lone goal in Thursday's 6-1 loss to the No. 1 team in their 2A classification, Denver Christian. She added three more in her 19th career hat trick on Friday before officials ruled the game over after 60 minutes due to lightning in the area.

Fellow-captain Lauren Muniz, after learning about Bihag's feat for herself, recommended they go out for frozen yogurt or ice cream when she hits the mark.

Actually, she quickly reconsidered, "I'll bring you a cake."

Muniz, committed to Harvard soccer, is the other part of the team's one-two star punch. And she has been something of a statistical wonder, too.

Even with her missed sophomore season — when she sat out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament — she is now up to 185 career points after assisting on No. 98 for Bihag.

Of course, it would be easy (and possibly lazy) to point to the brains as the driving force for the Ivy League midfielder, it's not wrong, either. Both Bihag and Welsch said the senior's brilliance can be seen on the pitch.

"She's just a really great role model," Bihag said, smiling as she seemingly embarrassed Muniz with the high praise. "We do really look up to her."

It's probably not a bad thing for the Mustangs that their top-two players aren't exactly comfortable hogging the spotlight. Both of them seem like they'd rather talk about their team as a whole, especially with just three more games before the postseason begins.

Currently ranked sixth in 2A, those two give Dawson the kind star power not often seen in the state's smallest classification. But the Mustangs also have lots of inexperience. Not to mention, a glaring lack of depth, which was evident as the Mustangs showed tired legs in their second game in less than 24 hours on Friday.

Welsch said his varsity rotation is miniscule at only 11-12 players. He pointed to that as part of the reason his team faltered the way it did in the second half to the top-ranked Thunder, who scored four unanswered after the break to win by five. It's certainly not ideal for how the 2A playoffs are set with rounds one and two scheduled on consecutive days, May 10-11.

"It's going to be interesting to see where we fall come playoff time," Welsch said. "The problem in 2A is you have to play Friday and Saturday. It's going to be a challenge."

One the Mustangs feel like they'll be ready to face.

At 9-3, their losses this spring have come against the top three teams in CHSAA's 2A postseason rankings.

Before their ninth straight shutout over the much-improved Panthers (4-5-2) — the first, though, that wasn't decided by 10 or more goals in a mercy rule since 2016 — they also lost to No. 2 Flatirons Academy and No. 3 Loveland Classical inside a busy April, where they've played 10 games over the past 23 games, and have three more next week.

Sustainability will be key from here, they said.

"Those losses have helped us grow a lot and we take what we learn in the game and put it into practice, building off it each week," Muniz said. "The biggest thing for us is to put (80) minutes together."

With big-time stats and smarts, Bihag and Muniz are ready to lead the way.