DES MOINES– Top ranked. Top-seed. And, only one loss on the season, the season opener, to Cedar Rapids Washington. The Iowa City West High Trojans rolled like a juggernaut into the Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines for the Class 3A state soccer tournament, and rolled back out with the state championship trophy again.
The Trojans took care of rival City High 2-0 on Saturday, June 1, to clinch their seventh title and extend their win streak to 20 straight.
The 2013 tournament experience for West started on Thursday, May 30, in a quarterfinal match against those same Warriors from Washington who gave the team their only two losses in the past two seasons. This time, the Trojans weren’t going to go down without a fight, and even had some unique T-shirts to warm-up in featuring Warrior blue on the traditional West High green.
It was a reminder.
“It was early in the season,” coach Brad Stiles said, “but in the back of our minds, we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose to them twice.” Stiles quoted former Clear Creek Amana, and now Solon softball coach Jim White; “Dropping a game early in the season is sometimes a blessing in disguise.”
The Trojans scored in the first minute of play Thursday after Washington’s Boris Licona-Morena tripped Justin Baker, setting up a penalty kick (PK) for West. Ben Troester got the nod, stepped up and blasted the ball past the Warriors’ keeper for the 1-0 lead.
A free kick with 14 minutes to go in the first half by Paris Martins gave West a 2-0 lead. The first half ended with West up 3-0 after Troester passed to Austin Miller, who scored on a header.
“I was a little worried,” Martins said after the match. “They beat us last year, they beat us earlier, they had the confidence.” But, “we know how to play soccer,” he said, adding, “it’s nice knowing we could finally beat them.”
A Washington PK attempt with two minutes left in the half failed as Ryan Holte made a successful diving stop. Neither side scored in the second half as West sent the Warriors home and prepared for a Friday match against Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Stiles was particularly happy with the win noting, “If you win on Thursday, you’re guaranteed two more games.” The coach was decked-out in a suit and tie to, as he said, “make an impression.”
The Trojans continued to make an impression, shutting down the Cougars 2-0. Jason Guymon scored late in the first half for the 1-0 lead and Troester found the back of the net on a rebound off of a Ryan O’Deen shot.
The win sent West to the Championship round against old friends and rivals City High. The Little Hawks took a 3-1 win over West Des Moines Dowling in the quarterfinals and put away Johnston 2-1 in the semis for a 17-2 record coming into Saturday’s bout.
The Trojans used their heads, literally, as both goals were scored off headers. First, Baker headed the ball into the goal off a pass from Miller late in the first half. Then in the second half, Garrett Grimsman sank a goal off the side of his head, again from a Miller pass. City High scored in the second half on a Fernando Pacheco run, but the Trojans held them off to earn the trophy.
Stiles and company lose 10 seniors to graduation: Ryan Holte, Nathan Schuchert, Aaron Miller, Mueng Sunday, EJ Schroder, Justin Baker, Omar El Ramady, Nick Kuntz, Paris Martins and Jacob Frisbie. Baker, Martins, Holte and Sunday were named to the Class 3A All-Tournament Team with Sunday named the captain.