DES MOINES – What took so long?
“I guess we were off our game today,” A.J. Adam said.
He’s kidding, of course. Iowa City Regina won its fourth Class 1A state soccer championship in five years Saturday afternoon, a most impressive 4-0 victory over Dyersville Beckman.
Adam had the game’s first goal on a short breakaway less than four minutes in. That’s relative days from the Regals’ first two tournament games in which they scored in 12 and 16 seconds.
What a bunch of chumps, right? What a bunch of champs.
“Unexplainable,” said Adam, the captain of the 1A all-tournament team.
“Our kids work really hard,” said Regina Coach Rick Larew, whose team (15-1) won all three games here by the same score and lost only to 3A Muscatine this season. “I know everyone works hard, but our kids play all summer long. They lift weights all year long. As a coach, I don’t think anyone is more demanding than I am. I’m just so proud of these guys.”
Beckman (17-1-1) outplayed Regina significantly the final 20 minutes of the first half and was unlucky not to at least be tied. At one point, a Blazers shot ended up deflecting off both goal posts but stayed out.
But the game turned on Nicolas Ziniel’s penalty kick goal about eight minutes into the second half. Freshman Andrew Yowell was taken down by Beckman defender Daniel Goerdt as he attempted to maneuver around him a few feet inside the penalty area to the right of goal.
“One of our short corners. We just did something we’ve done pretty much all year,” Yowell said. “Pass to me, I either play it back or get in myself. I saw the opportunity to get in, and the guy was right up on me. I didn’t have a chance to cross it before he took me down.”
“I feel like when we got that penalty, the entire team, our motivation fell,” said Beckman’s Ryan Lansing. “It went downhill after that.”
Adam scored again with 25 minutes left, Johnny on the spot to punch in a Fabian Ovellet-Pinto cross that sneaked over the hands of Beckman keeper Michael Gibbs. Aaron Schmitz further demoralized an already demoralized Beckman team with another goal with 11 minutes to go.
“I think just the intensity was up in the second half,” said Yowell. “We had about a 10-minute spot there where they had domination over us. We realized that, got together and picked it up the last half.”
“(The PK) was what really changed momentum,” Adam said. “We came out hard and then we kind of lost it for awhile. At halftime, we were like ‘Come on, we’ve got to get this going.’ I think the penalty kick was really a sway of momentum towards us.”
Nevada beat West Liberty in the consolation game, 3-1. Here is the 1A All-Tournament Team, as selected by the Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association:
Tate Handsaker (Nevada), Austin See (Nevada), Rafael Ibarra (West Liberty), Ramayan Rivera (West Liberty), Travis Gudenkauf (Dyersville Beckman), Adam Noethe (Dyersville Beckman), Aaron Schmitz (Iowa City Regina), Andrew Yowell (Iowa City Regina), Jared Lueken (Dyersville Beckman), Aidan Mullen (Iowa City Regina/Goalkeeper). Captain – A.J. Adam (Iowa City Regina).