116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The ball nestled into the upper left corner of the net and Antonio Sanchez leapt high and swung his fist. The Iowa City West senior's 25-yard free kick from the top of the box bent over and around the Bettendorf wall and gave the third-ranked Trojans a 2-1 victory over No. 6 Bettendorf in a substate final Saturday at Barker Field.
'I just knew everything was on the line,' Sanchez said. 'I put everything I could behind it. It's a great feeling. I can't even put it into words.'
West (17-2) returns to the state tournament for the 17th time after a rare season at home. The Trojans will take on Cedar Rapids Washington in a quarterfinal game at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.
'That was the worst execution of a game plan we've ever had, but I tell you what, I'm pretty happy now,' West Coach Brad Stiles said.
Sanchez's shot came in the 74th minute after a brief conference.
'It was between me and Alex (Andersen), and we just lined up,' Sanchez said. 'I think he was going to take it. I went up and was like 'You got it?' And he said, 'It's up to you. It's your last game, you choose.' I said, 'All right, I'll take it.''
He correctly predicted the way the keeper would go and took the ball the other way.
West trailed 1-0 after Nate Seaberg cashed a PK in the 32nd minute.
'It was devastating,' West senior Nicholas Pitcher said. 'It wasn't a penalty in my opinion, but I could see it was going to happen. I was definitely thinking about last year. And when I missed that chance early on I thought 'Oh God, I let us down.''
• Substate soccer: Washington gets the bounces it needed
But in the 38th minute Adam Rose sent a long cross into the box to Pitcher, who got his head on it.
'I got like the slightest touch; it was enough to kind of confuse them,' Pitcher said. 'And they sent it in for an own goal.'
'Once we scored I was like 'OK we've got this, we're back in it,'' Sanchez said. 'We had all the momentum going into the second half.'
The Bulldogs finished 14-3. They had won 14 games in a row.