Prep Soccer

Marion boys' soccer tops Cedar Rapids Xavier in overtime to place third at state

Indians, Williamsburg and Iowa City West all with bright futures after state consolation round games

DES MOINES — Marco Fichtner made his mark in two seasons as the Marion boys’ soccer coach.

The former Mount Mercy University and Cedar Rapids Rampage United player led the Indians to the only two state-tournament appearances in school history, including a third-place finish this season.

“I’m really happy for all the guys that they finally have something to cheer for,” Fichtner said after coaching his last game for the Indians, a 4-3 victory over Cedar Rapids Xavier in the Class 2A consolation game of the boys’ soccer state tournament Saturday at Cownie Soccer Park. “Especially against Xavier, a city rival. It’s been a good story, a perfect ending to a personal fairytale for me.”

Fichtner, a native of Germany who came to the United States to play college soccer for Mount Mercy/Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic, is relocating to Australia as his visa is set to expire. He leaves behind a young, talented roster that won 38 games in his two seasons, including a 17-1 mark this year.

“I’m so proud of this team,” said Marion senior Alex Whalen, whose penalty-kick conversion 50 seconds into overtime won the game. “We won three games my sophomore year. Went to state last year and a third-place finish this year. I’m really excited for the future of this team. Guys like Jaffer (Murphy) and his brothers give us so much potential.”

Sophomore Jaffer Murphy scored two goals and assisted on a score by freshman Levi Murphy. A day after losing their first game of the season in a state semifinal to Storm Lake, the Indians appeared determined in the consolation game.

“I feel like yesterday we were all really upset about our loss that we should have won,” Jaffer Murphy said. “Just taking that momentum and that anger into this game and being able to finish on the chances that we got. That’s what put us through.”

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Xavier (10-9) graduates a dozen seniors, including all-state honorees Thomas Bean and Will Hanigan. Bean will play collegiately at Truman State (Mo.), while Hanigan – who played in just 18 games the past two seasons due to a back condition that required surgery – was thankful to finish out his career with his teammates.

“It really means so much to me,” an emotional Hanigan said. “All I’ve focused on for 18 years is soccer. I’m just so happy that I was able to finish out these last few games with the team. No matter how it turned out, it means so much to me because this is something I’ve loved my whole life.” 

GILBERT 2, WILLIAMSBURG 0 In its first state tournament appearance in school history, the Williamsburg boys’ soccer team placed fourth after falling in the Class 1A consolation game, 2-0, to Gilbert.

“A year like this is fun and the guys should be proud of what they’ve done,” Williamsburg Coach Ryan Sauser said. “To get to state is one thing, to win a game is a big thing to not lose sight of that. … I was happy with the effort and proud of their year.”

Williamsburg (14-5) — a state quarterfinal winner on Thursday — returns six players next year that scored at least five goals, including sophomore Matt Cronquist, who posted 13 goals and a team-high 20 assists this season.

“It was really special,” Cronquist said. “We wanted to make history here and we did that. Next year, we’re looking to improve even further.”

ANKENY 4, IOWA CITY WEST 3 (2OT) All in all, it was a pretty encouraging “rebuilding” year for the Trojans. After replacing 75 percent of its goal-scoring production from the team that won the ninth state title in program history last season, West (18-5) finished fourth after dropping the Class 3A consolation game to Ankeny, 4-3, in double overtime.

“I got a lot of these underclassmen some good minutes today and it was a competitive game,” West Coach Brad Stiles said. “Sometimes the consolation isn’t always that. I think it will be a good learning experience for them.”

Out of its roster of 26 players, West will return 19, including 12 freshmen and sophomores.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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