CEDAR RAPIDS — With 4:30 left in the game, Dylan Anderson nearly scored his first goal of the season, but his strike only found the crossbar.
Twenty-five seconds later, opportunity knocked again for the Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior in the form of a crossing pass from sophomore midfielder Reed Foster.
Anderson did not miss a second time.
“I just took my chance,” Anderson said after scoring the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory for the Class 3A 14th-ranked Cougars over No. 7 Cedar Rapids Washington in a boys’ soccer substate semifinal game Wednesday night at Kingston Stadium. “I saw the cross coming. I knew momentum was definitely on our side from the end of the half, so we were just driving hard, working hard and I just took my chance.”
Kennedy (11-5) trailed on two occasions. Returning first team all-state selection Keaton Woods scored his 3A-leading 26th goal of the season in the first half for the Warriors, but Kennedy senior Alex Stone delivered the equalizer on a long free kick attempt just before halftime.
“When we would go down, we battled back and stayed with our game,” said Stone, a Wartburg signee. “We were identifying the threats and we just kind of locked it down on them on defense.”
Less than four minutes into the second half, Washington freshman Anders Bergstrom scored off a Woods assist, but Stone again tied the game just 23 seconds later.
Late in the second half, the game had all the makings of an overtime affair until Anderson delivered the victory.
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“It’s just that ‘keep fighting’ kind of idea that we visited with these guys about in our last couple of practices,” Kennedy Coach Adrian Evans said. “It’s do or die now. You really have just got to take every game, it’s such a cliché, but you’ve got to take every game as you can because for some of these guys, it’s their last opportunity.”
The next opportunity for the Cougars is a substate final game at noon on Saturday against fifth-ranked Iowa City West (16-3), the defending state champion and winner of 15 of its last 16 games.
The Saturday winner earns a spot in the Class 3A boys’ soccer state tournament. West has qualified 17 times in the last 18 years, while Kennedy has not been to state since 2012.
“I think we’re at the point right now where they’re really starting to believe that they can do amazing things,” Evans said. “It took them a while to really feel that. … For coaching, it’s more of a ‘just hold back a little bit and let them really take ownership’ and it is amazing to watch them do that because they really are starting to feel like this is a special team.”
For the second year in a row, Washington (13-5) ends its season two wins from the state tournament.
“We obviously played good enough to win,” Washington Coach JP Graham said. “We outshot them. … Kudos to them for finishing. … I thought we could have been up two, three nothing in the first 10 minutes early when they were on their heels. We needed to put the dagger in them and we didn’t do it, ever. They did a good job of answering us.”
CLASS 3A SUBSTATE SEMIFINAL
At Kingston Stadium
No. 14 Cedar Rapids Kennedy 3, No. 7 Cedar Rapids Washington 2
Goals — CRK: Alex Stone 2 (9), Dylan Anderson 1 (1); CRW: Keaton Woods 1 (26), Anders Bergstrom 1 (5). Assists — CRK: Reed Foster 1 (3); CRW: Keaton Woods 1 (9).
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