116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — It’s cliche at this point to call this year in high school sports unprecedented.
Still, sometimes you forget it’s not just because of the masks and limited attendance and postponed games here and there.
Take the Iowa City West boys’ soccer team. It’s a deep and talented team, one ranked No. 5 in Class 3A with just one loss in overtime. But in this unprecedented season, you could call what happened Thursday a milestone. It marked the first team dinner of the year, outside at a park, but a somewhat normal team dinner nonetheless.
“To see all those guys actually sit and hang out and not be at the soccer field and not have to worry about what I have to say, it looked like the weight was off their shoulders,” West Coach Brad Stiles said.
Developing that camaraderie can only help in a team sport like this, as it started to Friday night in West’s 3-1 win over No. 16 Iowa City High at Ed Barker Soccer Complex.
The Trojans put two goals on the board in game’s first 20 minutes, then withstood a second-half City High (3-2) charge to improve to 7-1.
“I’ve thought a couple times, we’re behind schedule, we’re behind schedule,” Stiles said. “It’s just, these guys haven’t spent as much time off the field together. It’s just gonna take a little bit.”
Sophomore Michael Nelson scored the opener on a cutback pass from Kolby Godbolt in the seventh minute. Owen Smith headed in a corner kick in the 20th minute and West looked like it could comfortably put the game away.
But City High didn’t go quietly against its crosstown rival, catching the Trojans napping after a cleared corner kick that was launched back into the box and poked in by Alima Mmunga to slice the lead in half with 37:37 to go. City High outshot West 9-5 in the final 40 minutes, but the Trojans were able to seal the win when Brendan Klutts slipped a pass to Godbolt for the final goal with 4:29 left.
“We needed to take a few deep breaths and just focus on keeping the ball more than anything,” Smith said. “I think it ended up being good for us because we put another one in the back of the net at the end of the game.”
Godbolt, Smith and Nelson were all playing in their first West-City game. Another sign of an unusual season that isn’t lost on anyone involved.
“It wasn’t perfect, but I had a great time and that’s what’s important,” said Godbolt, who started his high school career at Iowa City Liberty. “It’s my senior year. I get one shot at it and made it count.”