Regina Roars Past Solon, Into 1A Semifinals
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DES MOINES – In the regular season meeting between Regina and Solon last month 100 minutes wasn’t enough for either team to find the net.
Kieler Brown didn’t even need a full minute to get Regina on the board in a Class 1A state quarterfinal rematch on Thursday at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
Brown scored 35 seconds in and Nick Pechous added a pair of goals in the second half as third-ranked Regina advanced to the semifinals for the ninth time in the past 10 seasons with a 3-0 win over No. 4 Solon.
“The coaches have been telling us to come out in the first five minutes, we always want to play strong in that first five minutes and today we did that and it really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Brown said. “The rest of the game I thought we dominated.”
The win sends Regina (14-5) to the 1A semifinals where it will face two-time defending champion Dyersville Beckman at Noon in a semifinal rematch from last season.
Solon had a five-match losing skid end with the win and closed the season 16-6.
“I know their heads are hung and they are upset but the second most wins in school history with 15 shutouts that’s a pretty damn good year for anybody I don’t care who you are or what class,” Solon coach Jeremy McMurrin said. “It was a good year just a tough way to end it.”
Regina needed penalty kicks to edge Solon in the first meeting between the two teams on April 29 in Solon.
The Regals had no plans for a similar ending on Thursday.
“Our game plan is high pressure right form the get go for the first five to eight minutes to see how they are going to handle it and how they are going to respond,” Regina coach Rick Larew said. “We wanted to find that out in a hurry and we did.”
Regina was in attack mode from the opening kickoff and the early aggression paid off big.
Pechous played a cross from the far side of the field into the box and after a deflection or two Brown found the ball at his feet.
The sophomore forward got enough on a shot to roll it over the end line for his 13th goal of the season.
“The ball got bobbled, bounced off a couple of guys, rolled to the line, got cleared off and hit somebody it was just kind of a mess,” McMurrin said. “All of a sudden they came out celebrating.”
The early goal breathed life into the Regals who had several opportunities to add to the lead but came up empty.
Solon had its best opportunity to pull even on a free kick from 25 yards out in the 36th minute but it sailed high and Regina led 1-0 at the half.
“The rest of the half we had so many great shots that didn’t go in but there was no pressure, at that point, you hit them and you miss them and you don’t get mad, you don’t get angry, you don’t get upset with each other,” Larew said. “For that first one to go in and to break the ice it sure relaxed our guys and we played the way that we wanted to play. We wanted to put on a clinic of possession and I thought we did just that.”
Pechous put things out of reach in the final 20 minutes.
Regina continued to control possession after halftime and finally broke through when Pechous put away a shot from point blank range in the 66th minute and added a second goal nine minutes later to make it 3-0.
“It felt really good,” Pechous said. “We’ve played Solon before, we didn’t know if they would come into this game and play defensive like they did in the first game but they surprised us in this game, they attacked more so the early goal definitely took a weight off our back.”
Regina now turns its attention to a Beckman squad that has won 58 of 59 matches over the past three seasons.
Beckman (18-1) advanced with a 5-1 win over Sioux Center on Thursday and has now won seven straight state tournament matches by a combined score of 19-3.
That stretch includes a 2-0 win over Regina in the semifinals last season.
“It’s going to be a fight against Beckman,” Brown said. “Last year it was a tough loss but we wanted another shot at them.”