116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The tradition continues for the Cedar Rapids Xavier boys' soccer team.
The Saints' Dallas Klein drilled a penalty kick at the 15:08 mark in the second half to send Xavier to its eighth consecutive state tournament with a 3-2 win over Fort Madison.
'There is a long-standing tradition at Xavier of getting to the state tournament,' said Klein, the Saints captain. 'You don't want to be the team that lets it down.'
Xavier is the No. 3 seed and will take on Hudson at 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
The tradition looked to be in danger early in the contest. Fort Madison's Tristen Dickerson scored at 21:09 in the first half to put the Bloodhounds ahead, 1-0. Braxton Williams followed up with a goal 46 seconds later for Fort Madison, putting them up 2-0 on the defending 2A state champs.
'In the first half, we kind of played their game,' sophomore Will Hanigan said. 'We played long ball, but we knew we could be the better team.'
The Bloodhounds' physical play kept the Saints off the board in the first half. Nolan Armstrong tried to dribble into the penalty area, but a swarm of Bloodhounds kept him out of the net. Hanigan broke through for the Saints, but his shot clanged off the underside of the top bar.
Hanigan said the Saints will have to contend with differing styles of play in Des Moines.
'Obviously, we have to get used to 2A teams packing it in the box,' said Hanigan. 'We play a 3A schedule, which is more on your feet.
'If they want to pack it in the box, sometimes you just need to find another way to get a goal.'
Xavier did just that in the second half. Hanigan scored the Saints' first goal just under four minutes into the half. Xavier Head Coach Amir Hadzic said a fast start is what the Saints wanted in the second half.
'We were down 2-0 at half, and the last thing you want to do is panic,' Hadzic said. 'One goal at a time, and it was very important for us to get a goal in the first 10 minutes.'
The Saints tied the game, 2-2, at the 27-minute mark with a Thomas Bean header off a corner kick that sailed into the goal. Both teams stayed aggressive on offense, but neither team could break the tie until Klein converted on a penalty kick with 15 minutes to play.
'I knew where I was going to go, and I knew I was going to put it in the back of the net,' Klein said. 'I was just trying to relax a little and put it in.'