INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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IOWA CITY— By the time the Iowa City High and Iowa City West boys’ soccer teams got their game started Friday, dusk had already started to overtake the field.
The lights blinked on, bathing the University of Iowa Soccer Complex in brightness. Ranked No. 1 in the state, City High was looking to make three-straight wins over their intra-city rival into four on one of the bigger stages — with likely the biggest crowd — either team will see this year.
They would not.
A breakaway goal from Trojan senior Nicholas Raley with 31:35 left was the haymaker, ending City High’s dreams of a perfect season in a 1-0 victory. The score came off a nice assist from Alex Andersen, who placed the ball perfectly for Raley to capitalize.
“I honestly thought it would be me passing to him,” Raley said. “But I just went back to the game plan, put a move on him and scored.”
A keepers’ battle through much of the game, West’s Zachary Frisbie and City High’s Sam Tomek were locked in.
It was a high-tempo game, with lots of action and shots, but the defenses played well enough to keep either team out of trouble. Near the end of the half, however, both teams threatened, with Tomek making an incredible save at the 6:07 mark and Frisbie making an athletic play of his own with 2:27 left in the half.
Possession was split fairly equally through most of the game, though as the game went on, West (5-2) was able to take advantage. It wasn’t so much that City High (6-1) couldn’t move the ball down the field, but as the second half went on, they struggled to put shots on goal.
“It’s not how many chances you create, it’s how many you put away,” Iowa City High head coach Jose Farjardo said. “They were more effective than us today.”
In the end, it really was just one breakaway goal that separated the two teams. The Little Hawks had a great opportunity to make something happen over the last few minutes of the game as they got very aggressive, but they weren’t able to find the space they needed.
Frisbie had one last excellent save at the end of the game, which ended up keeping the game from going into overtime.
Even so, West head coach Brad Stiles still wants more out of his team. He thought the first five minutes of the second half was some of the best soccer they’ve played as team, but said he didn’t feel his team was able to continue it through the rest of the game.
A win, however, is a win and breaking a multiple-year drought in the rivalry game was something special. Oh, and Stiles is pretty happy about the win for another reason, too.
“We’re having our first alumni game tomorrow night,” Stiles said. “I get to walk into that with my head held high.”
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