116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — This Iowa City Regina boys’ soccer season started with a 4-0 loss, then a 5-0 loss, then a 6-0 loss.
“It’s tough,” Regina sophomore Kaleab Wendy said. “Going to the game and getting beat by 3A teams, that’s tough.”
Tough, but rewarding — eventually. Those setbacks to 2A No. 10 Solon, 3A North Scott and 3A No. 11 Cedar Rapids Prairie, they happened with nights like Tuesday in mind.
Tuesday, the 1A No. 12-ranked Regals weren’t bothered by a muddy field at Regina or their top-ranked, undefeated opponent from Mid-Prairie. The Regals scored a pair of goals in each half for a 4-1 victory, ensuring no 1A team would make it through 2022 unscathed less than a week after handing then-No. 4 West Liberty its first loss, 2-1 on the road.
“Our schedule is pretty tough. I kind of like it,” Wendy said. “It prepares us for the substate and state games. It exposes what we have to work on.”
Regina head coach Rick Larew looked at this week as the start of a second season. The calendar flipped to May, substate play is coming in a little over two weeks and the weather might even warm up soon.
He knows his 7-6 team might not have the record to host a substate final, but he can look at how far a group with only one senior in the starting lineup has come since that “first” season and feel good about its chance to get to state for a 14th straight season.
“That was hard this year,” Larew said of the early lumps. “We really got slapped around. It wasn’t just that we were playing bad, but those teams are so good. Our mistakes, they just punished us. Just punished us.”
Even the win over the Comets was preceded by a 3-0 defeat against 3A No. 12 Bettendorf two days prior.
“I was a little concerned about their confidence,” Larew said. “They seem to be coming back right now. They work hard and they try to do things we talk about.”
Sophomore Quinn Warren was certainly confident against Mid-Prairie. He scored the opener on a free kick in the 17th minute and closed the scoring on a similar play with 6:28 remaining.
“I just took two deep breaths and scored on one of the best teams we’ve played so far,” Warren said. “It’s tough to do, but I just focus on it after every practice.”
Emiliano Herrera-Sinnwell added a goal on a pass from Wendy after a short corner and Evan Lacina converted a PK a few minutes after Tucker Miller scored for Mid-Prairie on a free kick.
The Regals won’t play a 1A team again until their substate opener. Next on the schedule are Davenport Central, 3A No. 3 Pleasant Valley and 3A No. 13 Muscatine.
You might see a losing record next to Regina’s name in the postseason bracket, but it would be wise to mentally attach Larew’s pregame message to that L column.
“I really don’t care if we win or lose, but I do care if we’re better an hour and a half from now,” Larew said. “I think we’re getting better every day. We’ve got a bunch of great kids, nice kids that work really hard.”