116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Xavier boys' soccer team immediately smothered any substate suspense.
As a result, they are on the cusp of yet another state-tournament berth.
Senior forward Luke Duball scored less than two minutes into the match, then assisted on a stunning header by teammate Tyler Steffensmeier seven minutes later as the fourth-ranked Saints routed Mid-Prairie, 8-1, in a Class 2A boys' soccer substate semifinal Wednesday at Heco Field.
'It's definitely a special time,” Duball said. 'You need to really focus because at this point it's one and done. You've got to come out and play every game hard. We wanted to come out here and start really well and that's what we did.”
After junior midfielder Thomas Bean converted a direct free kick midway through the first half, Duball scored his second goal of the game with 18 seconds left in the first half, which sent the Saints to the halftime huddle with a 4-0 advantage.
'We had a lot of space,” said Duball, a Western Illinois recruit. 'We could pick up the ball and turn and run at people and really create a lot of spacing behind them and pull them out. We were doing really well at the beginning when we were pulling them out at the wings. We made a lot of space in the middle, put the balls over top and got some goals.”
With two goals and two assists Wednesday, Duball has surpassed the totals of his all-state junior campaign. His 26th assist of the season, which ranks second in 2A, arrived in the 50th minute and resulted in a second score for Bean, who leads the team with 18 this year.
Senior Nicholas Koechner, freshman Brennan Lloyd and junior Will Hanigan - who was playing his first game in two months following a back injury - also tallied goals.
Xavier (11-4) will host a substate final Saturday at noon against Mount Pleasant (11-7). With a victory, the Saints will earn a trip to the state tournament for the 16th time in 17 years.
'Sometimes being at Xavier brings that tradition and expectation,” Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic said. 'There is always that high expectation and none of these guys want to be that group that fail and do not go to state. … That is always our goal.”
Senior forward Ricardo Vargas scored the only goal for Mid-Prairie (7-6).
AT HECO FIELD
No. 4 Cedar Rapids Xavier 8, Mid-Prairie 1
Goals - CRX: Luke Duball 2, Thomas Bean 2, Tyler Steffensmeier, Nicholas Koechner, Will Hanigan, Brennan Lloyd; MP: Ricardo Vargas. Assists - CRX:
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