116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Pleasant Valley beat the Class 3A boys’ state soccer tournament’s No. 3-seed 1-0. It beat the No. 2-seed 1-0.
All that was left was the top seed.
The final game of the week Saturday at Cownie Soccer Park almost looked like a replay.
The fifth-ranked Spartans upset top-seeded, third-ranked Iowa City West 1-0 to win their first boys’ state soccer championship in their first tournament appearance.
It was PV’s 15th shutout of the season and the first time West (20-2) failed to score this season.
“That’s kind of hard to swallow, as well,” Iowa City West Coach Brad Stiles said.
“Going into it, I thought we’d be able to at least score one, maybe two and be able to get out of here, but credit to them for the shutout. All those guys did well today.”
The script was familiar for PV (20-3), which knocked off Cedar Rapids Prairie and Johnston earlier this week with second-half goals.
In the 70th minute Saturday, leading scorer Rhys Ward picked his head up in the midfield and launched a shot from distance that struck the back of the net and provided the difference.
“I looked up and I saw the defender a little left of me,” Ward said. “I didn’t see the goalie. I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just shoot it.’ I hit it, and it went in.”
It was a goal that almost came out of nowhere, but the Trojans knew it was a possibility.
“Something that we talked about as a group is them being dangerous from distance,” Stiles said. “I think it comes back on us not being able to create a goal. If it’s 1-1, then that still gives us a chance. It just didn’t work out today.”
It was the third time West fell behind this week, but this time there wasn’t enough time for a comeback.
The Trojans had chances, with 18 shots, including a few dangerous looks from Kolby Godbolt, but came up empty.
“They read the ball pretty well,” Stiles said. “I bet they intercepted double-digits, maybe 20 passes today. I think that disrupts a lot of things for a lot of teams.”
Pleasant Valley achieved the Iowa City sweep, beating Iowa City Liberty (2-0) and No. 8 Iowa City High (2-1) just to get its first state-qualifying banner.
The Spartans, in a sense with nothing to lose here, ended up winning it all.
“That’s what we said before every game,” said Gabe Johnson, the all-tournament goalkeeper for PV. “‘Nobody thinks we’re gonna win these, so let’s go out there, we’ve got nothing to lose. They’re the ones that have the pressure.’
“Look how it turned out.”
Pleasant Valley center back Jack Roemer was named all-tournament captain.
Godbolt, Yulong Shao and Marko Migambi were named to the all-touranment team for West, which was attempting to win its 10th state championship. The Trojans still have the state record with nine, but it’s a tough end to an 18-game winning streak. Its only other loss was in overtime at Prairie in early April.
“The heart and the effort and the tackling was all there today and that’s something they can be proud of,” Stiles said. “They left it on the field today.”