CEDAR RAPIDS — Each time the Cedar Rapids Xavier boys’ soccer team has won the Mississippi Valley Conference under Coach Amir Hadzic, it went on to play in a state championship match.
Thursday’s performance may have provided the Saints with more good fortune.
“It is really special,” Hadzic said after the Class 2A No. 1 Saints clinched a share of the MVC Mississippi title with a 3-0 victory over 3A No. 3 Iowa City High at Heco Field. “This group never gave up. We don’t have true stars. We have some good players, but many close matches went our way.”
Xavier (12-2, 6-1 MVC) finished the regular season tied with Cedar Rapids Washington (11-5, 6-1) for first place in the MVC Mississippi Division. Hadzic found that fitting given the fact that Washington Coach J.P. Graham coaches alongside Hadzic with the Mount Mercy men’s team.
“I don’t mind sharing it with Wash,” Hadzic said. “We call each other brothers. It would be a good one to share.”
Last season, the Saints finished with a losing record in conference matches. Now, they bring a load of momentum into the postseason, where they open at home on May 22 with a Class 2A substate semifinal match against the winner of Fort Madison and Washington (Iowa).
“We are really excited about that,” said senior defender Ben Conrad, who will be a college football placekicker with South Dakota in the fall. “Last year the regular season did not go exactly how we wanted it to, so this year we really put our mind to it and realized what we were capable of.”
The match was scoreless into the second half until the Little Hawks were forced to play with 10 players due to a penalty that resulted in a red card. The Saints took quick advantage with two goals a minute apart. Senior Nick Recker fielded an assist from junior Nick Fischer for a score in the 54th minute, while Fischer tacked on one of his own in the 55th.
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“As a team, we try to keep up our intensity at least until we get it 1-, 2-, 3-0,” Recker said. “Obviously the first goal led to a couple more scores, which is what we like to see. We like to pretend the game is always 0-0.”
Xavier sophomore Arnold Mutasingwa added an insurance goal with just over six minutes left in the match.
Junior Adam Englebrecht helped City High (11-3, 5-2) avoid the shutout with two minutes to go, but it was not enough to prevent back-to-back losses to the two division champions.
AT HECO FIELD
Class 2A No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier 3, 3A No. 3 Iowa City High 1
Goals — CRX: Nick Recker (3), Nick Fischer (10), Arnold Mutasingwa (7); ICH: Adam Englebrecht (7).
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