Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – It was missed opportunities that cost City High three regular conferences matches and a second consecutive unbeaten regular season.
A few more missed chances Thursday kept the Little Hawks from returning to the state semifinals for the second year in a row.
Ninth-ranked Ames edged City High 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout to earn a 2-1 win over the third-ranked Little Hawks in a 3A state semifinal at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“It’s the same story on a different day,” City High coach Jose Michel Fajardo said. “We could have won every game this year but we don’t put our chances away, we don’t take care of the small details and in these games you have to take care of the little things and we just didn’t do it.”
Ames (15-3) converted its first two penalty kicks in the shootout and keeper Lincoln Saxton came up with saves on City High’s first two attempts from Imata Mwenemkamba and Ethan teDuits.
The Little Cyclones secured a second consecutive trip to the 3A semis when Ryan Mills converted his attempt.
Ames will will face defending 3A champion West Des Moines Valley (19-3) in the 3A semifinals at 5:05 p.m. on Friday.
Defending 3A runner-up City High (16-4) had a 10-match winning streak snapped with its
third quarterfinal loss in the past three seasons.
“The thing that hurts the most is it is repetitive,” Fajardo said. “It happened against Linn Mar, it happened with Sioux City West two years ago. We need to learn that when you get to the biggest stage you have to take care of things.”
Ames jumped to a 1-0 lead when Divyesh Kumar scored on a left-footed rocket from inside the box in the 17th minute.
City High got the equalizer in the 34th minute when John Clark scored on a one-touch blast from just inside the box.
“We work on that same play in practice a lot, where you can’t go inside the 18 unless it is a one-touch shot,” Clark said. “We worked on that because we knew teams were going to defend us like that and it worked out perfectly.”
It stayed 1-1 for more than 60 minutes but not without close call after close call for City High.
The Little Hawks best chance to take the lead came with nine seconds left in the first half but junior Jonah Dancer had a penalty kick bound off the post and out.
“It’s always disappointing when you lose a game that you feel like were in and could have put away many times,” Dancer said. “Especially when it ends your season it’s always a disappointing.”
City High controlled possession for a majority of the second half and both overtime periods but could not find a way to put away a goal.
The Little Hawks had a flurry in the 68th minute of a free kick and two corner kicks that all led to shots on goal but couldn’t get a ball past Saxton.
“The game didn’t change and it could have changed,” Fajardo said. “It could have changed in the first half on the pk, it could have changed many times in the second half but we didn’t make that play that changed the game.”