Prep Soccer

Andrija Mijatovic scores the only goal as Cedar Rapids Xavier boys' soccer blanks Prairie

Croatian exchange student wrestled with decision to return to Iowa for second season abroad

Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Andrija Mijatovic (9) fights for control of the ball against Pella’s Ethan Poulter (8) and Reid McGinley (11) during the boys’ soccer state tournament last season. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Andrija Mijatovic (9) fights for control of the ball against Pella’s Ethan Poulter (8) and Reid McGinley (11) during the boys’ soccer state tournament last season. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Andrija Mijatovic termed it “a pretty messy summer.”

After a thrilling first season in America playing high school soccer for Cedar Rapids Xavier, the foreign exchange student struggled with the decision to either return to Iowa for his senior year or remain in his native Croatia.

“I had a lot of thoughts in the last week of being in Croatia,” said Mijatovic, who scored the only goal as Class 2A No. 3 Cedar Rapids Xavier edged 3A No. 8 Cedar Rapids Prairie, 1-0, in a boys’ soccer match Thursday night at John Wall Field. “I changed my mind at least 10 times throughout that week, but I decided because I thought I am going to stay here for college if I get a scholarship. … There are multiple opportunities here for my future to continue playing soccer. That is the dream.”

Mijatovic ranked 11th in 2A last season with a team-high 18 goals, which earned him a spot on the Mississippi Valley Conference first team as Xavier reached the state semifinals.

After a scoreless stalemate through 71 minutes, Mijatovic fought through an elbow to the face to head in a corner kick from junior Logan Petersen for his second goal in two games.

“It was messy because there were a couple of players around me and I jumped,” Mijatovic said. “I expected it to come, but I thought someone was going to kick it before me. I put my head there.”

Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic figured the Prairie defense would open the game with an eye on Mijatovic, so he switched up his alignment to play him at middle defender.

“He did a fantastic job back there,” Hadzic said. “Not only that he was stellar defensively, but he has a really good shot, as well.”

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Freshman Carson Jeffery and sophomore Lincoln Oakley combined for the shutout in goal for Xavier, which has shut out both opponents through its 2-0 start to the season.

After winning its opener at Dubuque Wahlert on Tuesday, Prairie drops to 1-1.

Boys’ soccer

AT JOHN WALL FIELD

Class 2A No. 3 Cedar Rapids Xavier 1, 3A No. 8 Cedar Rapids Prairie 0

Goal — Andrija Mijatovic (2).

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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