Bettendorf knew its defense was going to be stout. Its offense was the question coming into the boys soccer season.
So far, the Bulldogs have had little difficulty finding the back of the net.
Blake Rollinger and Dustin Harris each scored twice Monday night as Class 3A 12th-ranked Bettendorf dismantled a weary Muscatine squad 4-0 at TouVelle Stadium in a Mississippi Athletic Conference showdown.
"It is huge for our offense to gain some confidence because our defense is playing really well and we feed off their energy," Harris said.
Bettendorf has yet to allow a goal after recording 12 shutouts a season ago with much of its back line returning.
Offensively, the Bulldogs have tallied at least three goals in each match.
It has been a collective effort with five different players contributing.
"We didn't know whether we'd have quality goal-scorers coming into the season," Bettendorf coach Ben Pennington said. "We lost (all-stater Nathan) Seaberg, but kids are picking it up."
Bettendorf (3-0, 3-0) struck in the 17th minute.
Brant Mueller, making his season debut, headed a corner kick from the back post to Rollinger. The senior, right in front of the goal, tapped it in.
"Brant is our go-to guy in those situations," Rollinger said. "He'll go up and get the ball no matter what. He made it easy for me."
The Bulldogs controlled possession throughout against a Muscatine squad playing its ninth match in 12 days and fifth in the last 72 hours. The Muskies (6-3, 2-1) didn't have a shot in the opening half and only four in the match.
Even so, Bettendorf had just a 1-0 lead at halftime.
"We were playing too direct and playing long to their goalie," Pennington said. "What's weird is we actually played better into the wind. We kept the ball down, and I thought our passing was better and we finished better in the second half."
Less than two minutes into the second half, Mason Chin executed a perfect long pass and Rollinger raced past Muscatine's defense to set up his second goal.
"Our speed is huge," Harris said. "That's what we rely on up top. We have good possession, but every once in a while we like to play it long. That's a big part in our offense."
Harris scored in the 56th minute. After Rollinger made a cross that deflected off Muscatine keeper Kobe Vasquez's hands, Harris stepped in and pushed it into the right corner.
The junior scored again in the 68th minute. Fouled just outside the 18-yard box, Harris lofted a free kick to the left post for a goal.
"That was just a very good team we beat," Rollinger said. "That will help us moving on. We can play off this and keep playing well."
Muscatine played top-10 Iowa City High to a 2-1 match on April 1 and just came off three victories Saturday at the Linn-Mar tournament.
"The boys just ran out of steam today," Muscatine coach Jose Varela said. "We haven't even had time for a recovery day.
"Bettendorf is a good team and made us do things we didn't want to do. I told the boys the idea is to be playing better by the end of May. We don't get too high on a win and we don't get too low on a loss."
Pennington realizes bigger matches are on the horizon. Still, he likes what he has seen in the early going.
"We're a fully healthy team right now," he said, "and it is neat to watch."