116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Defense was the name of the game in the battle between No. 1 Dyersville Beckman and No. 2 Iowa City Regina in a Class 1A semifinal at the boys state soccer tournament.
And defense is Beckman's DNA.
The Blazers posted their second shutout at the state tournament, 2-0 over the Regals, and ninth in a row. They have given up only six goals in their 21 victories and will play for a second consecutive state title at noon Saturday against Carroll Kuemper (18-2)
'They took us out of our game,' Regina Coach Rick Larew said. 'I thought that 15, 20 minutes at the beginning of the game we played real well. They're a real good team and have a lot of kids who can play. We've got good speed, but they've got great speed. They're bigger, stronger and faster.'
The Blazers went ahead on a goal by Brady Arens in the 22nd minute. He hit a low roller with pace that eluded Regina keeper Isaac Vollstedt even though he knelt to scoop it up and seemed to have his path blocked.
'We're still in the game,' Larew said. 'We come back (second half) with the wind at our back, but we just couldn't seem to connect the passes. It's to their credit. They play a very aggressive defense, and they take you out of your game.'
Beckman scored a key insurance goal in the 61st minute on a cross to sophomore Drew Boekholder, who found the net for his first score of the year.
'Riley LeGrand just sent a perfect pass across the middle,' Boekholder said. 'Beautiful. There was one person (in front). He must have gotten lost somewhere; I was wide open right when I kicked it.'
Regina's frantic end-of-game attacks produced its best chances, but the Blazers succeeded overall by preventing the Regals from stringing passes together to build an attack.
'A lot of it comes from the midfielders,' center back Owen Grover said. 'We do have some big boys and we have a lot of speed to go along with it. We man up on those guys and make plays, and that's how we get it done.'
The midfielders are the first line of defense, and they are aggressive.
'If you can stop the initial run you have a better chance of stopping the whole play,' Beckman Coach Mirek Laskowski said. 'That's what we were doing. We were cutting off passes and getting in front of players, and they don't have a chance to get some speed and take some shots.'