116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY — Add another ranked win to the Iowa City Liberty boys’ soccer resume.
This might be the best one yet. It was certainly the most dramatic.
Hayden Saul headed in a game-tying goal from a corner kick with 2.6 seconds left in regulation and the Lightning (8-7) went on to upset No. 8 Iowa City High in penalties, 2-1 (4-2 PK).
“I saw it was an outswinger. Eiseley (Dykstra) usually doesn’t hit them in very well but he smacked it in,” Saul said. “They didn’t cover me very well so I just got over their back post defender.”
Dykstra, a midfielder and junior captain, usually isn’t taking corners. But with time expiring, he had no choice.
“I just grabbed the ball, threw a Hail Mary and hoped for it to go in,” Dykstra said.
The goal matched Aaron Rutherford’s 52nd-minute penalty for City High (10-5).
In the shootout, the Little Hawks put two attempts over the bar. The Lightning connected on all four tries.
“It speaks to the character of our players,” Liberty Coach Sonny Travis said. “We have young guys, but we have some really good senior leadership.
“The players, it’s a tight bunch. They believe in themselves.”
It’s Liberty’s fourth straight win, and second straight in penalties after beating Linn-Mar last week.
The Lightning lost five straight in a tough Mississippi Valley Conference earlier this season, but have shown their potential with four wins in their last five. Among those are victories over No. 10 Cedar Falls and No. 12 Muscatine. And now, a City High team that was on a roll of its own with four wins out of five, including three over ranked teams.
“I think Coach has really been pulling us together,” Dykstra said. “He’s been working on it all season and it’s all just coming together now and clicking.”
Next is a quick turnaround to Thursday’s substate opener against Davenport North. Liberty is the No. 4 seed in the substate, City High the No. 2 seed behind fifth-ranked Pleasant Valley.
“More than likely, we’re gonna make a ruckus,” Saul said.