116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Less than 30 seconds into the game, Iowa City Regina's Kieler Brown got a pass in front of the Solon goal and slammed home a shot.
It was quite a while before the No. 4 seeded Regals scored another in their 3-0 win over fifth-seeded Solon. In fact, Regina had eight shots on goal between its first and second.
So, when Nick Pechous got goal No. 19 of the year with 14:56 left in the second half, the relief among the Regina fans and players was obvious.
'You have to keep going,' Pechous said. 'If the first one doesn't go in, keep trying again and again and again. If you miss 99 out of 100 shots, you still make one of them.'
This game was a rematch of an epic on April 29, in which the Regals topped the Spartans, 1-0, after 100 minutes of play led to penalty kicks. Just like in that game, defense ruled the day for both sides.
After recovering from the early punch in the mouth, Solon did play a long stretch of fairly solid defense. It did allow a number of shots by Regina, but it was continually hassling the Regals' attacking forwards.
'It looks easy, but scoring a goal is a hard thing to do in soccer,' Regina head coach Rick Larew said. 'Overall I thought the kids played very well for us and they just kept up the pressure, it was relentless pressure.'
The problem for Solon was that pressure. It couldn't get anything at all going on offense and its scoring chances were relatively few and far between. Regina has allowed just two goals over its last five games (including against the Spartans) and that strong stretch of defense continued once again.
Pechous also scored the final goal of the game, a nice strike with 6:03 left that allowed Larew to rest his starters for what will be a tough match against No. 1 seed Dyersville Beckman, which topped Sioux Center 5-1.
The semifinal match is at noon on Friday and should be nothing short of a great game. The Blazers are 18-1, the Regals are now 14-5.
That said, Regina has just one loss this year to a Class 1A team.
'We haven't won a state championship in a few years,' Pechous said. 'We didn't want to come here today and lose on the first day.'
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