116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The heartbreak was evident as City High's top-ranked and unbeaten boys' soccer team fell 3-1 to second-ranked West Des Moines Valley Saturday in the Class 3A state championship.
Young men who probably haven't shed tears in public since they were toddlers openly wept after their dream was dashed by a team whose contrasting style had the winning formula ... at least on this day.
City finished 20-1 and was runner-up for the third time (2013, 2010). The Tigers (21-1) won their fifth title and their first since 2006.
'We talked about turnovers, turnovers because we know the way (Valley) plays. They are not a soccer team; it is a tennis team,' City Coach Jose Fajardo said. 'They don't control the ball; they just kick it. We knew that. We had to be prepared. We knew they had fast players in the back.
'It's very hard when one team is trying to play and the other isn't. You are always chasing the ball. But what you have to do at the end of the day is win the game, especially in a championship.'
Valley got an early lead in the fourth minute on a quick counter. Griffin Albaugh knocked in a rebound after Aaron Williams' shot was deflected but not cleared. But City struck back with a goal by Henry Mosher on a pass from Hunter teDuits in the 39th minute.
'They were really down (at halftime) and I was really disappointed in my players,' Valley Coach Aziz Haffar said. 'We were still in the game; it was 1-1. I told them that we'd win 3-1, I'm not kidding.'
City dominated possession for the first 22 minutes of the second half, but that didn't bother Haffar.
'We wanted to play low pressure and let them come to us,' he said. 'I thought we could work a counter against Iowa City because I don't think they can match our speed. It was really obvious. So we needed to be more patient the rest of the half, and then we could counter attack.'
Valley did just that when Jack Vander Weide crossed the ball and speedy sophomore Jordy Triana was on the other end completely unmarked in front of the goal. City keeper Sam Tomek had no chance, and Valley led 2-1 with 18 minutes left.
• Class 1A: Beckman completes another unbeaten season
'I got the ball on the outside, and I heard Griffin call for the ball and I just played it,' Vander Weide said. 'He missed it, but Jordy came in on the back side and finished it. Everybody got all excited and we got our momentum going.'
'It was by design,' Haffar said of the play. 'When we get it we need to find our feet and quickly attack them and switch the point of attack. Finally we did that and we scored out of it.'
The final goal, also by Triana, came with 7 seconds left as City pulled Tomek for a kick and left the net open.
'They've been fighting together the whole year,' Fajardo said. 'And today again we were the better team. We were the better team for most of the game. But you have to score to win. We had more possession. We dominated the game. They scored three goals on us.'