116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Senior captain Ren Schroud has seen a theme in the Cedar Rapids Xavier boys’ soccer team’s group chat over the last year.
“We want a ring.”
Any team that loses in the last state championship game can carry that motivation into the next year. Combine that 1-0 loss to Lewis Central in the 2019 Class 2A final with a canceled 2020 season, a lineup full of upperclassmen and you have this Xavier team, ranked No. 1 and, Schroud says, “fired up.”
“We are motivated,” Schroud said. “We want to come out here and win.”
That’s all the Saints have done early this season, now 5-0 after a 3-1 win Tuesday over Cedar Rapids Washington (4-4) at Kingston Stadium.
The “one” in that scoreline might be a little gnawing, as it represents the first goal Xavier has given up this season. Washington’s Anders Bergstrom scored it on a through ball from CJ Nsengiyumva to tie the game just over six minutes into the second half. When you start a season with four shutouts, it’s natural to want to keep that streak going as long as possible, but as Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic said, “soccer is like that,” and his team was bound to give up a goal at some point.
It’s the response that mattered, and it was a big response Tuesday night.
A few minutes after a header from first-half goal-scorer Arnold Mutasingwa was saved by Travell Wright, Xavier produced the go-ahead combination. Schroud found some space, picked his head up and delivered a pass to Reilly Moore running into the box for a tap-in to give the Saints the lead with 16:10 remaining. Just over a minute later, Moore took on his defender and drew a penalty that he converted to seal the win.
“We were able to regroup, just get in a little circle and tell each other that we’ve got to keep going, that we can still win this game,” Moore said. “It really showed in the end. We had the energy just to keep going and were able to grab those two goals at the end. It was a great team victory.”
This is a team and a program with its eyes on big goals — its most recent of seven state titles coming in 2015 could almost qualify as a drought — but it was easy to see, or rather hear, how much wins like this mean, too. Schroud smiled as his teammates’ celebration in the opposite corner’s locker room reverberated throughout the stadium.
“We had a little chip on our shoulder and I think this group wants to really play for (the 2020) seniors as well,” Hadzic said. “There’s some motivation. It’s really nice to see upperclassmen value people who went through the program and want to do it for them. These seniors are really eager to see what will happen in early June.”