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DES MOINES — Six schools thought they’d be playing for a boys’ state soccer championship on Saturday, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
Persistent thunderstorms throughout the morning and early afternoon in Des Moines completely washed out championship Saturday at the Cownie Soccer Complex. With officials unavailable Monday due to girls’ regional finals, the championship games were pushed to Tuesday, with the same time schedule as was originally set for Saturday.
Assistant executive director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Alan Beste said the IHSAA and Des Moines Parks and Rec made the decision in conjunction to postpone Saturday’s championships and consolation games.
“The fields are simply unplayable,” Beste said after a meeting with coaches informing them of the decision. “We received a couple inches of rain in a short period of time, and there’s about an inch and a half to two inches on the fields, so they’re unplayable.”
Beste said Parks and Rec officials made the call on the field conditions, with the girls’ state tournament a week away. Regardless, though, he said the IHSAA was going to call the games today after officials saw the field.
They obviously wanted to get the event completed as scheduled, but ruled on the side of caution to prevent injuries to the players.
“Even if we waited (until later Saturday), our concern is the safety of the players because of the wear and tear on the goal boxes and center of the field,” Beste said. “Safety has to take priority. So we’ve had to postpone.”
Beste said, “the coaches took it extremely well,” when told of the decision, because their priority is obviously keeping their players healthy.
Mid-Prairie Coach Pat Cady was frustrated with the weather and having to shift things back three days, but was in total agreement with the decision in terms of safety. His son, and team captain, Wyatt Cady said the Golden Hawks “love raining games” and “that’s almost when we’re at our best.”
Pat agreed, but while it’s fun to see the kids have a good time, he’d rather err on the side of caution and think about the players’ future.
“We played one game like this against Williamsburg and the kids just had a blast. … It would be a great time, but there’s too much water standing on the field,” Pat Cady said. “And you’re going to get in the situation of — these kids need to use these bodies the rest of their lives and to see somebody tear up a knee or get a major injury off this would be unfortunate. So let’s just have everybody play when the conditions are safe and it’ll be a fair game for everybody.”
The bad news strategy-wise is having extra time to prepare can lead coaches to overthink the game plan. The good news in that regard is every team is in the same situation, so it’s up to each individual to prepare as they see fit. Add into that players’ family trip plans and the possible loss of foreign exchange students on some teams — Pat said Mid-Prairie won’t lose theirs until after the championship, but that other schools might not be so lucky — and it could be a stressful three days.
The Golden Hawks’ head man laughed when asked about overthinking things, saying he almost did that before the team’s semifinal win against Dyersville Beckman, but stayed with his original plan.
That remains the plan going forward for the Class 1A state championship game Tuesday at noon against Iowa City Regina, with a “light practice” to be added in Monday to keep the guys fresh.
“We’ve got to stay with what we’re doing, because what we’re doing is working. We’re scoring a lot. Defensively we’re strong,” Pat Cady said. “We’re just going to keep things the way they are. We’ll probably just prepare the guys a little better for the look they’re going to see against Regina. We haven’t seen that formation this year, so it will kind of give them a better understanding and expose their attack to prepare them for that.”
As for the players, Wyatt said he couldn’t be happier to have an extra three days to prepare.
Mid-Prairie’s first run at a state title has come with some fatigue, and the Golden Hawks’ senior captain thinks some extra prep time is exactly what they needed.
“It’s probably a good thing for our team,” Wyatt said. “We’ll realize we want it. We’ll go out and give just that little bit extra we might not have today, because we might have said, ‘Oh, we’re too tired.’ Or maybe we’re cramping up or have an issue, maybe we’re too sore. But now we’ll just be like, ‘This is it, we can make history right here,’ and we’ll have that little bit of extra motivation.”
Tuesday’s entire schedule — championships and consolations — will mirror the original schedule set for Saturday. In addition, Beste said all tickets purchased Saturday will be redeemable on Tuesday, “so keep your tickets.”
The Class 1A, 2A and 3A championships also will still be aired on KCRG-TV 9.2 beginning at noon.
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