116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Goalkeeper was always Lincoln Oakley’s position. Until he met Carson Jeffery.
“I knew once his time was there, he was gonna take the starting role,” Oakley said.
Instead of competing for the spot in goal at Cedar Rapids Xavier with one of the state’s top keepers, Oakley took the initiative and asked to make the switch to forward after his sophomore season two years ago, Jeffery’s freshman year.
It’s worked out for both players, and the Saints as a whole.
Oakley scored the go-ahead goal in the first half at Cownie Soccer Park on Thursday and the top-ranked Saints shut out No. 10 Adel ADM 2-0 in a Class 2A boys’ state soccer semifinal. They’ll face No. 6 Bondurant-Farrar, a 4-3 OT winner over Dallas Center-Grimes, in the championship at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“If you would’ve told me in fourth grade I would’ve been scoring this goal, I would’ve been like, ‘are you kidding me?’ Because I would have just been sitting back in goal letting my defense do the work,” Oakley said. “Being able to be the person to actually score the goal is just an unreal feeling. I love to experience it with this team.”
Oakley obviously wanted there to be a season last year after the Saints were denied an eighth state title by Lewis Central in the 2019 2A final. But when the pandemic shut everything down, he was able to get in the extra work he needed.
“I worked a lot on my game and finishing,” Oakley said. “Went on a lot of runs. I was very out of shape when I was a goalie, so I had to switch it up. It’s a whole different position, but I love it up here and Carson’s doing great back there.”
It hasn’t always been smooth, and Oakley will be the first to admit he missed a couple chances Thursday. But he’s scored 12 goals, second on the team, and his work rate constantly bothers opposing back lines. His hustle got him to the back post to slide home a tipped free kick from center back Trysten Vasquez in the 26th minute against ADM (14-5).
“Lincoln’s been a great addition to the attack,” said senior captain Arnold Mutasingwa. “I didn’t expect him to be this good coming into the season, having been a goalie from the time we were younger.”
Having players like Mutasingwa, Reilly Moore and Ren Schroud has helped take the pressure off Oakley as he adjusted to a new spot on the field.
Mutasingwa and Moore combined for the Saints’ second goal Thursday, with Moore’s shot hitting both posts before trickling over the line in the 76th minute.
“All three of those players are much more skilled than me,” Oakley said. “I’m just thankful I can work in the rotation and have them play me great balls, because I wouldn’t be there without them.”
The feeling is mutual.
“We could be down, but Linc walks in the room and everything kind of changes,” Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic said. “He means a lot to our guys, to have that kind of presence. I couldn’t be happier for the kid.”