DES MOINES — The West Liberty boys’ soccer team had a specific strategy against North Polk.
“That was our idea heading into the game,” West Liberty Coach Walton Ponce said after the 11th-ranked Comets dispatched No. 10 North Polk, 4-2, in a Class 1A boys’ soccer state quarterfinal Friday at Cownie Soccer Park. “We needed to jump on the board. We felt that if we could get a goal or two in the first half, we were able to play our possession style of game. That is exactly what happened.”
The Comets (11-7) did much better than just "a goal or two." Freshman forward/midfielder Jahsiah Galvan opened the scoring with a goal in the fifth minute, which was quickly followed by another from junior midfielder/forward Gabe Seele.
Suddenly, West Liberty had the top seed on its heels seven minutes into the match.
“It was a big change,” said Seele, who leads the Comets with 12 goals this season. “Usually we start off slow. So today, we made sure we had a good warm-up. We have been focused since Monday of this week. We have been focused on today. We just knew that as soon as we came in, we needed to be ready and it showed because usually we are not a first-half team. We got those three goals and stuff just started going our way.”
The aforementioned third score again came from Galvan, this time in the 11th minute. His two goals represented a quarter of his goal-scoring production all season.
After North Polk (14-4) cut the deficit to 3-1 before halftime, West Liberty senior midfielder Yohanan Negrete put the Comets back up by three scores less than four minutes into the second half with his third goal of the season.
“Our record doesn’t indicate the level of our group,” Ponce said. “We definitely have a tougher schedule with 2A and 3A teams, but it is in preparation for this.”
West Liberty will play No. 2 Iowa City Regina (16-6) in a 1A state semifinal Saturday at noon.
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Regina has won seven of the last 10 1A state titles, but were pushed by the Comets in a April 25 match that required penalty kicks to render a 3-2 Regals victory.
“It is going to take something better than today,” said Seele, who added two assists. “It is not just going to be easy now. The further you go, the harder it gets. We are not going to take it for granted and we are going to work way harder tomorrow to be ready.”
CLASS 1A STATE QUARTERFINAL
At Des Moines
No. 8 West Liberty 4. No. 1 North Polk 2
Goals — WL: Jahsiah Galvan 2 (8), Gabe Seele (12), Yohanan Negrete (3); NP: Kenny Fitzgerald (6), Jacob Elliott (1).
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