DES MOINES — Iowa high school boys’ soccer’s last two unbeaten teams lined up on Cownie Soccer Park’s Field 6 Friday afternoon knowing only one could play for a state title.
Seconds after the first whistle, that team already had a leg up.
Storm Lake’s Jacobs Scully scored the opener off a flicked free kick in the first minute, setting the tone for a 4-1 win over Marion in a battle of teams ranked 1 and 2 in the final Class 2A coaches poll.
The top-ranked Tornadoes (18-0) will take on No. 4 and top-seeded Pella (18-2) in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. championship. Marion (15-2) will meet Metro foe Cedar Rapids Xavier (10-8) in the consolation game at 1:40 p.m.
“We thought we were going to have an equal matchup and then it just kind of balanced it more unequal to start out with,” Marion Coach Marco Fichtner said. “I thought we played well the first half, especially. We moved the ball. Could have moved it a little quicker to make more chances, but the biggest thing was just that they had the more confident players on the ball as soon as that first ball went in.”
With speed and ability all over the field, Storm Lake frustrated Marion on a hot day. The Indians allowed four goals for the second straight game, but there weren’t enough chances to overcome that against this team.
Just as it did in a 6-0 quarterfinal win over Hudson, when it scored three goals in the first eight minutes, Storm Lake added on early. Gerardo Rosiles got behind the Marion backline to make it 2-0 in the 13th minute. Alonzo Rios and Rosiles added goals late in the second half to go up 4-0 before Jaffer Murphy scored on a penalty kick drawn by Levi Murphy for a Marion consolation.
“Their defense is really strong,” Marion senior captain Alex Whalen said. “They’re fast. They’re physical. They’re strong. They’re quick. They got us a couple times and we just couldn’t come back.”
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Storm Lake had just one sophomore in a starting 11 dominated by seniors, while Marion was one of the youngest teams here.
Whalen almost traded his soccer cleats for track spikes after his sophomore season, when the Indians won just three games. But he knew players like Jaffer Murphy were on the way and stuck it out to help make history and create a foundation. The Indians reached state two years in a row and won their first game in the tournament Thursday.
“It’s one of the best experiences of my life so I appreciate Marion soccer for that,” Whalen said.
As the Tornadoes play in the 2A final for the second time in three years in search of their first title, Marion will look to continue building into a consistent winner. Its top four goal-scorers are sophomores or freshmen, led by the Murphy brothers (Jaffer, Levi and Samuel).
“I’m really excited for the future of Marion soccer,” Fichtner said. “I think the whole Marion athletic department is taking great strides through funding, coaching, the staff, the whole surrounding.”
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