CEDAR RAPIDS — His team needed a keeper this soccer season, so Jack Lemke volunteered.
Never mind he hadn’t played the position before. Not growing up, not ever.
“I got a lot of help from my coaches and teammates,” the senior said.
That help, being a quick study and just an overall ability for clutch play in a huge moment served Lemke well Saturday afternoon, as he stopped two penalty shot attempts in third-ranked Xavier’s 3-2 escape of No. 12 DeWitt Central in a Class 2A substate final at Heco Field.
The Saints won the penalty kick portion, 4-1, and will head to Des Moines for the state tournament for a 10th consecutive year and for the 17th time in the last 18 years. Pairings were not to be available until late Saturday night.
“Lots of emotions going through my head,” Lemke said of the PKs. “I felt bad for my mom and dad because they had to sit there and watch. They had to be nervous.”
These teams scored four goals the first 20 minutes of the game, then that was it on a scorching day.
Thomas Bean put Xavier (9-7) on top, then Jesper Andreassen tied it. Bean scored again, only to have Central’s Brett Baxter tie it.
Xavier had several chances for goals after that but could not get a ball past Central keeper Ezra Onken. In fact, Lemke did not record an official save in the game, that’s how lopsided was the shot count.
But, oh, did he come up big in PKs. He said his team practiced the PK scenario in Friday practice, and Hadzic had some points on what Central shooters might do.
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“I think that match took two years off my life,” said Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic. “I think we had, like, 30 shots on goal. We had two leads, but they both disappeared. We could not buy a goal, and they had a good game plan. Shot after shot, we squandered.”
“Saving the first shot was a big one,” Lemke said. “That gave me a lot of confidence.”
Central ended its season 12-7.
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