By Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Two of the most storied boys soccer programs in Iowa put on a good show Thursday night at chilly Barker Field.
The match between Iowa City West and Cedar Rapids Xavier seemed destined for penalty kicks, but the Saints’ Thomas Bean aggressively chased a bounding ball and knocked it into the net for a 2-1 Saints victory in double overtime.
“Luke Duball, he’s a great midfielder, he’s our senior captain, he put it in position,” Bean said. “I ran and I saw it and I put it away.
“In the second overtime the tactics kind of go away, and it’s just kind of who wants it more.”
The Saints were essentially in counterattack mode and with the ball bouncing high Bean settled it and fired. West keeper Zach Frisbie, who had been terrific all night, was unable to get a glove on the ball with his dive.
“It just looked like somebody on their team had a little bit more energy left than us,” West coach Brad Stiles said. “He maybe picked up a bad pass or a bad touch, but he had a good look at the goal. That was the end of it.”
Bean was assessed a yellow card four minutes into the second half, so Xavier coach Amir Hadzic elected to move him up top from the midfield to lessen the risk of getting a second card. Xavier also lost star junior mid Will Hanigan to a pulled hamstring midway through the second half.
“We had two forwards and then really packed it in on defense,” Hadzic said. “I have a lot of confidence in our young goalkeeper, Owen McCarron. He’s a freshman. He’s a club player, but I didn’t know how he’d perform in a big game like this but he was truly outstanding.”
Xavier, ranked fourth in 2A, improved to 2-0, with both wins against MVC foes. Third-ranked West lost for the first time after winning three non-conference games at the Muscatine tournament last weekend.
West scored in the first minute of the game in a patented early rush that Hadzic warned his team to prepare for.
Alex Andersen made a run on the left side and shot, but McCarron blocked the shot. With the keeper on the ground the ball wasn’t cleared and West’s Tai-Hee Choi knocked the rebound into the open net.
“We literally gave it back to West,” Hadzic said.
But after that goal West struggled to regain its early dominance. It had its chances, but its offensive flurries were more like misfires.
“We might have beat ourselves as well tonight,” Stiles said. “We had some chances, a couple touches went out of bounds. I think lack of communication was the biggest issue tonight. Guys were wide open. Standing wide open with their center back at the top of the box and didn’t say anything. It’s just a matter of their experience has to show through a little bit more.”
Xavier evened the game halfway through the first half on a penalty kick by Bean after the referee ruled West had fouled at the top of the box.
“I think it was a big game because we are in the same division (of the MVC),” Hadzic said. “We like where we are heading.”