IOWA CITY — For Keaton Woods, a tough decision before the season was made with Saturday in mind.
The Cedar Rapids Washington senior could have easily stayed in Utah, where he prepped for a future professional soccer career with a Major League Soccer Academy team.
In the end, getting the Warriors to the boys’ soccer state tournament for the first time since his freshman year won out. His unforgettable Saturday made it happen.
“Amazing,” Woods said after he scored a season-high five goals for No. 11 Washington in a 6-2 mauling of No. 7 Iowa City High in a Class 3A substate final at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex. “It feels amazing now. I feel really, really good. It all just came together today.”
Even after Woods committed to attending Washington for his senior year, there were plenty of questions whether he would be available to the Warriors at all after injuring his right knee in the preseason jamboree.
Tests revealed a strained MCL, and Woods was cleared to return for the eighth match of the season.
Woods did not find the net in any of his first three matches back in the lineup. In his last eight matches, he has posted a team-high 19 goals.
Washington (13-5) won all eight matches.
“This year we just knew we couldn’t lose again,” Woods said.
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After Woods opened the scoring less than seven minutes into the substate final, the Little Hawks managed to tie it at 1-1 in the 19th minute with the second goal of the season from junior midfielder/forward Temesgen Schumm.
Over the next 52 minutes, Woods scored four more times and the rout was on.
“Obviously Keaton has his confidence back, which is huge,” Washington Coach J.P. Graham said. “When he is on, he is on. We are going to keep feeding him balls and he is finally finishing the chances he is getting. … Now he is on fire, so watch out.”
In the final minutes of the match, John Geerdes got City High within three scores with a goal, which was quickly answered by Washington’s Berlo Nkombe.
This will be the first state tournament in the last eight years that does not include City High (12-4), which ends its season with losses in three of its final four matches.
Washington will open the 11th state tournament in school history with a quarterfinal match Thursday at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines.
“We had a tough four games there, but we picked it up and have won eight straight,” Washington senior defender Grant Knutson said. “I think we can get a few more.”
CLASS 3A SUBSTATE FINAL
No. 11 Cedar Rapids Washington 6, No. 7 Iowa City High 2
Goals — CRW: Keaton Woods 5 (19), Berlo Nkombe (1); ICH: Temesgen Schumm (2), John Geerdes (6).
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