116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — You wouldn't know it by the way defending champion Dyersville Beckman has played this year nor by the way it played in Thursday's Class 1A quarterfinal at the boys' state soccer tournament.
But the Blazers were a little iffy going into their match with West Liberty.
'Of course we did (feel pressure),' Beckman Coach Mirek Laskowski said. 'We've felt pressure the whole season. From the first game of the regular season we've played with a big target on our back.'
Beckman shut out the Comets, 3-0, and the target remained unscathed.
'We were a little nervous but also very excited to be down here,' Beckman's Dillon Keegan said. 'We had to get the nerves out and start playing our game. Once we did that we started gelling.'
The Blazers' attack looked like it would produce multiple first-half goals, but managed just one from Riley LeGrand on a rebound after a great save by Comet goalie Andres Garcia-Vargas.
Garcia-Vargas moved to the midfield for the second half, and for the first 15 minutes the Comets put pressure on the Blazers, nearly scoring on a header by Manuel Rueda.
'I think that would have turned the pressure up,' Comets Coach Mike Gunn said.
'They were moving the ball around quicker and we had to adjust to that,' Blazer defender Zach Deutmeyer said. 'Start moving the ball up to our forwards so we could start counterattacking.'
The Blazers struck back, scoring on two counters by Keegan down the left side.
'We noticed that the left side was opening up a lot,' Keegan said. 'They shifted to the right heavily. We knew they had openings on the left side.
'It's a weight lifted off my shoulders, coming back and being able to open up on the scoreboard and put a mark up there for myself and my team.'
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This was the eighth shutout in a row for Beckman (20-0), which has given up just six goals all season.
West Liberty (11-7) was at full strength and played a tough, physical match but missed connecting on too many passes and lost track of Keegan at crunch time.
Beckman plays Iowa City Regina (15-6) at noon Friday in the semifinal.