By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – There are plenty of factors that go into making the annual cross-town matchup between City High and West High one of the premier prep soccer events of the season.
The venue at the University of Iowa is perfect for a prep match and the crowd made of largely of students seated on blankets next to the field adds to the atmosphere.
Add the fact that the match is annually features two of the top programs in the state that are regularly highly rated with top-notch talent across the field and you have the recipe for a special event.
What really makes the City vs. West soccer showdown standout is the situation that occurred on the games’ only goal in West High’s 1-0 win on Friday.
West High senior Nicholas Raley took a pass in City High territory from teammate Alex Andersen.
As Raley turned only one person stood behind him and a potential go-ahead goal that would be among the biggest of his life.
That defender, City High senior Gavin Oliver was a familiar one for Raley.
“When the ball came to my feet I was one-on-one with an elementary school friend of mine, someone I have known for a really long time,” Raley said. “He’s a great player, a great friend, so I knew I had to go for it and luckily I was able to put in.”
Those one-one-one matchups between players that have competed against each other for years went on for 80 minutes on Friday.
Oliver certainly won his fair share against his old teammate as City High held West High scoreless during the first half.
“I grew up playing with him,” Raley said of Oliver. “The first club team I played on he got me into it.”
West High coach Brad Stiles knows well the dynamic of the City-West rivalry.
He saw first-hand on Thursday night at the team dinner what makes the game special in a town the size of Iowa City.
“I picked a game, just a random City High game that we played here just so the new guys could get an idea of what the crowd would look like and about two minutes in one of the guys said ‘that’s me I was the ball boy this game’,” Stiles explained. “It was really cool to see that these guys have come full circle. They have put the pinnies on as ball boys and I think that’s where maybe Iowa City has an advantage on the bigger cities.”
Bouncing Back: A 7-0 start to the season for Class 1A fourth-ranked Solon was followed by a three-match losing streak.
That losing skid included losses to 2A No.7 Hudson and 1A top-ranked Dyersville Beckman and did nothing to sway the confidence of Solon head coach Jeremy McMurrin.
“I feel really good about where we are at,” McMurrin said. “We’ve lost to a couple of highly ranked teams and had a lead on Marion who is another good team, a big physical team. I’m not upset with where we are at we just need to get better every day.”
Solon show last week why McMurrin wasn’t worried.
The Spartans snapped their losing skid with back-to-back WAMAC shutout victories.
Solon (9-3) ended its three-match skid with a 3-0 win over West Delaware on Tuesday and added a 4-0 win Anamosa on Friday.
Battle tested: Less than a month into the season Class 1A second-ranked Regina has already played a season’s worth of ranked opponents.
Five of the eight matches for Regina (7-1) have come against ranked teams including three on Saturday at the Catholic Schools Tournament in Cedar Rapids.
Regina went 2-1 at the tournament, falling to No. 5 Davenport Assumption 1-0 and defeating No. 15 Council Bluffs St. Albert 1-0 and No. 6 Waterloo Columbus 2-1.
The most difficult stretch of schedule for the Regals is yet to come.
Six of the next seven matches for Regina come against opponents ranked in the top eight. That stretch begins this week with a home match against 3A No. 6 Bettendorf and a road test at No. 4 Solon.
It also includes matches against Gladbrook-Reinbeck (1A No. 3), West Liberty (1A No. 8), Pleasant Valley (3A No. 8) and Burlington Notre Dame (1A No. 7).