CEDAR RAPIDS — Prior to the boys’ soccer state tournament, Andrija Mijatovic’s parents flew from their native Croatia to watch their son.
The second-year foreign exchange student at Cedar Rapids Xavier rewarded them with a heck of a show.
“It is definitely a big boost for my confidence,” Mijatovic said after scoring four goals in a 5-0 victory for the No. 1 Saints over Knoxville in a Class 2A state quarterfinal Friday at Cownie Soccer Park. “It makes me happy. I didn’t expect them to come. It was kind of a surprise for me, but I am glad that they are here and I can show them what we have been doing here the last two years.”
What Mijatovic and the Saints have been doing is setting the stage for a possible state championship. Mijatovic broke a scoreless tie with a goal in the 10th minute, then poured it on with three more in the second half while working in unison with midfielders Michael Glavan, Brennan Lloyd and Ren Schroud.
“Those three guys have that triangle that just keeps us going throughout the whole game,” said Mijatovic, a senior.
Mijatovic leads the Saints with 25 goals this season, which is tied for fifth in all of 2A.
“I could not be happier for him,” Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic said. “He is working his tail off the last two years. There were games like last year at state which were maybe frustrating for him. He learned a lot. His parents said he matured probably 10 years in these two years being in the United States on his own. To see him today, scoring four goals, was just a big reward for all the hard work he put in.”
Sophomore forward Arnold Mutasingwa scored the other goal for Xavier (15-2), his 10th this season. The Saints are just the second team this season to hold Knoxville (14-5) without a goal.
“We didn’t know much about Knoxville and that is always a scary thing,” Hadzic said. “Once we settled after 10, 15 minutes and scoring the first goal was really essential. Once we scored the second one, I think we completely settled into our role and it was just a matter of time to execute the game to the end.”
Xavier will play No. 4 Gilbert (19-2) in a state semifinal Saturday at 2:30. Gilbert competed in 1A last season and finished third at state. Xavier is in the semifinals for the third year in a row.
“It has been our goal this whole season to get to that championship game and then win it all,” senior defender Ben Conrad said. “So we have all got our eyes on playing in that state championship on Tuesday. We all know we are capable of it. We have seen all types of tough opponents this year, so we are not going to back down from any challenge we face.”
CLASS 2A STATE QUARTERFINAL
At Des Moines
No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier 5, Knoxville 0
Goals — Andrija Mijatovic 4 (25), Arnold Mutasingwa (10).
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