116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — So, is Pleasant Valley ever going to lose a boys’ state soccer tournament game?
Heck, are the Spartans ever going to give up a goal?
“If we can’t get scored on, we can’t lose,” Pleasant Valley midfielder Aidan Judd said, “so that’s our main focus.”
Sixth-seeded Pleasant Valley made it five shutouts in five state tournament games, returning to the Class 3A state championship game with a 3-0 win over No. 7-seed Cedar Rapids Prairie on Friday at Cownie Soccer Park.
The Spartans entered their first state tournament last year and left with three 1-0 wins and a championship trophy. So far this year, they’ve kept the shutout streak going and added a few more goals to boot, including in Tuesday’s 2-0 quarterfinal win over Iowa City West.
“They win every 50-50 ball and they do it with passion,” Prairie Coach Curt Lewis said. “They let you know when they win it. We just don’t have that makeup of that grit to understand that every single ball matters.”
The opening goal came from the scenario Lewis was describing. Braden Simmons won the ball, picked his head up and fired in a shot from outside the box.
It was 1-0 at halftime, then, as Judd said, “we came out fired up in the second half and just kept fighting.”
Justin Ancelet shielded the last Prairie defender on a centering pass less than three minutes into the second half and Judd was there to put it in. In the 49th minute, Judd sprinted to the end line and sent in a dangerous cross that Prairie center back Kayden McMaster stretched to defend and tapped just over the line for an own goal.
The Spartans were able to substitute later in the second half and save legs for Saturday’s final — and they still enforced a zero on the board.
“I thought we were prepared with the film, with playing them last year, but until you get on the field and really deal with them — I mean, they just win everything,” Lewis said.
Pleasant Valley will face a misleading No. 8 seed in the final. Waukee Northwest is 10-10 but eight of those losses were forfeits for using an ineligible player. The Wolves handed PV their only loss this season.
A prideful Prairie season ends with a 17-4 record and the program’s first state tournament win in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Eight starters are set to return next spring.
“You need to experience everything,” Lewis said. “So now we’ve experienced a loss in the semifinals. Now, it’s get back to training, offseason. What’s it gonna take — now that we can get through Wednesday — how do you get to the semifinals and get the result to maybe someday play for a state championship?”