By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The last appearance for Cedar Rapids Prairie atop the Class 3A rankings came in 2013 and was short-lived courtesy to a 6-0 thumping from West High in Iowa City.
Prairie returned to Barker Field on Tuesday on top of the 3A rankings but this time the Hawks showed no signs up giving up the top spot.
Boston Riley, Matt Walter and Andrew Russell all scored goals as 3A top-ranked Prairie remained unbeaten with a 3-1 win over fifth-ranked West High in a Mississippi Valley Conference showdown.
“The last time were ranked number one we came here for the first game and got beat like 6-0 and lost three consecutive games, ironically the day we are ranked number one we come back to this field and we just wanted to be able to competitive,” Prairie coach Curt Lewis said. “I think we were very competitive tonight.”
Prairie replaced defending champion West Des Moines Valley in the number one spot in the 3A rankings released by the Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association on Tuesday afternoon.
A few hours later the Hawks showed they belonged, improving to 12-0 on the season and 8-0 in MVC play with their fourth consecutive win over a ranked team.
West High had a five-match winning streak snapped with the loss and dropped to 8-3 on the season and 5-3 in MVC play.
“They are legit,” West High coach Brad Stiles said. “They have a very specific way to defend, they have about eight guys that can pick off a pass at any point and time and when you cause that much disruption teams aren’t going to have that much success.”
Prairie didn’t waste any time getting started, taking an early 1-0 lead when Riley headed in a Joel Collett corner kick less than three minutes into the match.
“I think the ball got put right out into the sun, I heard (goal keeper Zach) Frisbie say ‘I can’t see it’ and by that time our guys didn’t move to react to it and they did,” Stiles said. “The goal I watched against Linn-Mar was a corner kick, the goal against Cedar Rapids Washington was a corner kick so my guys knew it was coming.”
West High answered back with a in the 14th minute when Alex Andersen slipped a shot past Prairie keeper Chase Harrison for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Prairie got the momentum back just before half when Walter put home a loose ball in front of the net again off a Prairie corner kick with just 25 seconds left in the half.
“That was probably twice as big as the one we gave up three minutes in,” Stiles said of the goal before half. “One at the beginning, one at the end we just shot each other in both feet.”
This time Prairie never let West High get the equalizer.
Russell provided some insurance with a goal in the 55th minute off a Colin Conrad assist as Prairie won for the second straight time at Barker Field.
“Against City High we were up and then the start of the second half we got defensive,” Lewis said. “We said tonight we weren’t going to get defensive early on, we were going to try to ride it out and we were able to add that third goal on a nice hustle play.”