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DES MOINES — Faced with a 1-0 halftime deficit, Iowa City Regina didn't consider the prospects of a second straight quarterfinal exit.
After firing nine shots in the first half, Regina (15-6) kept pressing and was rewarded with two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half, going on to beat Pella Christian, 4-1, in a Class 1A boys' state soccer quarterfinal Thursday at Cownie Soccer Complex.
The onslaught validated fifth-seeded Regina's belief it had the skill to control the game and advance to the semifinals against No. 1 Dyersville Beckman today at noon.
'I didn't think necessarily we would get four, but at some point the ball is going to start going in the net,' Regina Coach Rick Larew said.
Nick Pechous grabbed the equalizer in the 44th minute with a quick turn and first-time shot across goal into the upper right corner.
'When I saw the ball coming to me, I was thinking our strategy is go to the corner, dribble and cross it in,' Pechous said. 'I decided, no one is pressuring me, I'm just going to shoot this first time and, sure enough, it went in.'
With work still to do, the Regals didn't settle. Four minutes later, an Emilio Tovar centering ball from the left side found the feet of Mason Welter for an easy tap-in.
Pechous, who Larew said has been banged up for parts of the season, gave Regina some breathing room with his second goal in the 64th minute. The sophomore controlled a pass from Andrew Yowell in the box and firing into the bottom corner.
Tovar then put it away for good with his team-leading 21st goal with just over a minute to play.
Pella Christian (13-5), making its state soccer debut, came out aggressive, with two shots on goal in the opening minutes. The only PC goal came via freshman midfielder Nathan DeBruin, whose strike from distance tipped off the hands of Regals' keeper Isaac Vollstedt.
'A breakdown in midfield, we didn't step up and mark,' Larew said. 'We fixed it, but it shouldn't have happened in the first place.'
Chances were limited for the Eagles after that, while Regina kept pouring numbers forward. Tovar snuck into the box and had his effort tipped by PC keeper Josh Fopma off the bar midway through the half and a number of dangerous crosses didn't find a finishing foot.
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Able to sub in attacking reinforcements with quality depth, Regina rarely gave Pella Christian's defense a break.
Following a 1-0 loss to Gilbert in last season's quarterfinal, Pechous, said the 11 seniors on this year's team made it clear this wouldn't be a one-day trip.
'We started the second half with the urge to win,' Pechous said.
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