DES MOINES — As far as the Cedar Rapids Prairie boys’ soccer program has come, it has developed a sore spot.
Three state tournament appearances in the last four years — the only ones in program history — clearly displays the development of a solid foundation.
Zero wins in three state berths illustrates there is much work to be done.
“We just couldn’t connect passes,” Prairie Coach Curt Lewis said after the No. 2 Hawks were shut out by seventh-seeded Ankeny, 3-0, in a Class 3A state quarterfinal Thursday at Cownie Soccer Park. “We didn’t do anything we wanted to do.”
Last season, Prairie entered the state tournament with an unbeaten record, which garnered it a No. 1 seed. This time, the Hawks had a sparkling 14-1 mark and were seeded second.
In both years, Prairie was one and done.
“We thought it would be an 80-minute game,” Lewis said. “Obviously not 3-0. We thought it would be closer to that, but credit to them. They were able to do some things that they wanted to do and we couldn’t take that away and they took away what we wanted to do. We were our worst enemies at times.”
Ankeny senior Peter Gaspari broke a scoreless tie in the 55th minute with a drive along the right side over and past a sliding Prairie defender. Once Gaspari regained his footing after a hurdle, he was one-on-one with the Prairie goalkeeper.
“I saw that the defenders were both overstepping me,” Gaspari said. “So I just touched it past them and they went flying. It was an easy finish.”
The score clearly emboldened the Ankeny team. Junior midfielder Kolby Raineri put the game out of reach with a pair of late scores.
“Everyone saw the (Gaspari) goal and thought we would just step it up another level,” Raineri said. “Push the game out and that’s what we did.”
This was the first game in which Prairie (14-2) was held scoreless since a substate final in 2016. With three double-digit goal scorers on their roster plus two more Division-II college soccer recruits, keeping the Hawks out of the goal was a significant accomplishment for Ankeny.
“We knew they were going to come and play direct,” Ankeny Coach Jordan Burns said. “Their biggest threat going forward are set pieces. They like to get corners and throw-ins and put it into the mixer and make it difficult for us.”
Ankeny (16-4) is in the state semifinals for the first time since 2009. It will play third-seeded Bettendorf (15-2) Friday at 5:05. The two teams were scheduled to meet April 14 at Ankeny, but the game was canceled due to weather.
CLASS 3A STATE QUARTERFINAL
No. 7 Ankeny 3, No. 2 Cedar Rapids Prairie 0
Goals — Peter Gaspari 1 (7), Kolby Raineri 2 (15).
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