DES MOINES — Cedar Rapids Kennedy got its first taste of the boys’ soccer state tournament in six years on Friday.
While the receipt of a hard lesson from the defending state champions was immediately tough to absorb, it may just pay big dividends in the future.
“We just couldn’t match them,” Cedar Rapids Kennedy Coach Adrian Evans said after the Cougars were stifled by No. 1 Waukee, 3-0, in a Class 3A state quarterfinal at Cownie Soccer Park. “It is heartbreaking to see how these guys are reacting to it because you just want to be able to pick them up and give them a hug and say, ‘You are special guys. You did something special.’ We are hoping with a little bit of distance, they will understand just how special they all are.”
A game Kennedy defensive unit led by junior Curtis Ratzer kept Waukee off the scoreboard for most of the first half, but the Warriors (20-0) eventually broke through with goals in the 23rd minute by freshman CJ Coppola and then the first of two goals from junior Edi Cokovic with 13:01 left in the first half.
“They have got some good skill players,” Ratzer said. “Today, we didn’t come out on top, but we’re only graduating two starting seniors. We’re ready to come back next year. I think we proved this year that we are one of the better teams in the state. We can hang with some of the best teams. We are excited for what we have got coming. We are a young team. The future is bright for Kennedy soccer.”
Kennedy (11-4-1) returners accounted for 37 of the 38 goals the team scored this year. The Cougars will also bring back goalkeeper Sam Earl.
“With our strong junior class, I can’t wait to see how they get after it,” Evans said. “This is a group that used last year to drive them to this kind of pinnacle. I think next year is going to be amazing.”
CLASS 3A STATE QUARTERFINAL
At Des Moines
No. 1 Waukee 3, No. 8 Cedar Rapids Kennedy 0
Goals — CJ Coppola (10), Edi Cokovic 2 (16).
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