116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Halftime speeches can be overrated. For every 'Win one for the Gipper,' there are hundreds of others that resemble a standard, snoozy campaign stump speech.
But something changed for Dyersville Beckman after halftime, and it wasn't just technical adjustments. The Blazers came out like they were possessed, scoring twice en route to a 2-1 Class 1A state championship victory over Carroll Kuemper.
'I told them to relax (at halftime) and start playing with possession because we know how to do it. For some reason we were nervous,' Coach Mirek Laskowski said.
The Blazers (22-0) have taken their place in history with 40 consecutive victories over two undefeated state championship seasons.
'Forty wins is hard to argue against,' senior Dillon Keegan said. 'I think we're one of the top teams to ever come through Iowa. Playing with these guys has just been fantastic and a total honor.'
The first half was unremarkable except in the sense that the underdog Knights (18-3) played with the top-ranked Blazers. Neither keeper had a difficult chance. Then came intermission.
'The intensity just started up again,' senior Jake Grover said. 'We knew we could play better than we played in the first half. We had a good halftime speech and we knew this was going to be the last half we played as seniors, so we had to make it count and we did.
'Coach Mirek (Laskowski) and all the seniors were like if you can't do it for yourself or the fans do it for us. All the younger kids stepped up, and thank you for that.'
Beckman's attack was relentless, earning two early corners. Then Keegan was fouled just outside the top of the box.
'I ripped it and it managed to go underneath the wall,' Keegan said. 'The keeper got to it, but he didn't get a good grip on it. It spilled out, and Zach (Deutmeyer) was there to clear it up.'
'I just followed up because we knew their goalie was spilling the balls all game, so I was just there to clean up the mess,' Deutmeyer said.
Three minutes and 12 seconds into the half Beckman had the lead. Laskowski kept yelling, 'Keep the pressure on. Keep on charging.'
'That's the way to play soccer,' he said. 'They allow more physical contact and our players prefer it. Instead of backing down we're always one step ahead.'
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The Blazers dominated possession for the first 30 minutes of the half, as Kuemper just couldn't get the ball out of its end.
Then in the 65th minute Grover scored the insurance goal from just outside the box.
'I went around a kid and I was going to pass it off and I saw an opening, so I just went for it and thankfully it went in,' Grover said.
The Knights looked fatigued but got a goal on a shot that keeper Ben Hess couldn't completely handle. Kuemper's Carter Wittrock ran in, knocking into Hess's shoulder and booted in the rebound in the 70th minute. It was only the seventh goal given up all year and broke a string of nine consecutive shutouts.
'We were definitely cruising up to that point,' Grover said. 'It was sort of a fluke goal. We have a solid defense so we weren't too worried.'