BOYS' STATE SOCCER 2019

Iowa City West boys' soccer surges into 3A state final with win over Cedar Rapids Washington

Trojans will meet undefeated defending state champion Waukee Tuesday at 5 for state title

DES MOINES — No school in the history of Iowa high school boys’ soccer has participated in more state-championship matches than Iowa City West.

For the second time since 2014 and the 13th in school history, the Trojans are back again.

“This group needed to,” West Coach Brad Stiles said after the second-ranked Trojans defeated No. 11 Cedar Rapids Washington, 3-1, in a Class 3A state semifinal Saturday at Cownie Soccer Park. “Another consolation for all of us would have been a little hard to swallow. So I am glad we are going to a final.”

West (18-1) brings an 18-match win streak into the 3A final. Only the opponent — undefeated defending state champion Waukee (21-0) — boasts a longer streak.

Waukee denied West a trip to the final last season with a semifinal victory.

“We’re motivated to meet them again,” West senior forward Gada Ambo said. “We’re ready for them.”

When the start of the state tournament was postponed a day due to weather, it meant the state finals would not be played until Tuesday, which created a rare two-day break after the semifinals.

“I think it is an advantage,” Stiles said. “Now these guys get to take a moment, recover a little bit. Obviously, coaches are going to game plan some, but I think the end result for the boys will be a much better final. That should be the main goal.”

Ambo continued his torrid scoring pace with the first two goals for the Trojans. He got his team on the scoreboard in the 27th minute with a long, perfectly-placed free kick that sailed over the Washington defense and beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.

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“I saw the keeper out and I was trying to just get it into the box and not go over the goal,” Ambo said. “Luckily it went in. I’ll take that.”

Less than four minutes into the second half, Ambo got one-on-one with the goalkeeper and easily finished the score, his fourth in the tournament, team-high 16th this season and 11th in his last eight matches.

“My teammates found me and I was at the right place at the right time,” Ambo said. “It was a good day.”

The West defense — led by junior midfielder Roberto Guzman and senior defender Joey Kuehn — bottled up dynamic Washington senior forward/midfielder Keaton Woods and the rest of the Warriors’ offensive attack until a late Anders Bergstrom goal with less than seven minutes to go in the match helped Washington avoid the shutout.

“You are not really going to stop Keaton,” West senior goalkeeper Zach Albright said. “You are just going to have to get him out of his game as much as you can. … I thought we threw enough guys at him where he got frustrated and stopped running a little bit, so that took pressure off our back line.”

West sophomore forward Marko Migambi pushed the Trojans’ lead to 3-0 in the 70th minute with his 11th goal this season.

The loss snapped a nine-match win streak and denied Washington (14-6) its first trip to a state final. The Warriors will play No. 13 Bettendorf (13-3) for third place Tuesday at 4:10.

“We had some good opportunities,” Washington Coach J.P. Graham said. “Just today, it didn’t quite happen. … They are always solid in the back and they have a good keeper. Sometimes when you have a good keeper, you try to make everything too perfect.”

Boys’ soccer

CLASS 3A STATE SEMIFINAL

At Des Moines

No. 2 Iowa City West 3, No. 6 Washington 1

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Goals — ICW: Gada Ambo 2 (16), Marko Migambi (11); CRW: Anders Bergstrom (4).

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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