Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Nick Pechous learned a lesson after playing 100 minutes of scoreless soccer in Friday’s semifinal win over defending champion Dyersville Beckman.
Pechous saw first-hand how rare scoring chances can be at the state tournament.
When opportunity knocked early in the Class 1A state title game Pechous was ready.
Pechous headed in a Nicholas Yowell corner kick in the 10th minute as No. 3 Regina claimed its sixth state title with a 1-0 win over second-ranked Davenport Assumption (16-7) at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“When it came to my head I knew that I had to put it away,” Pechous said. “It could be the only chance of the game.”
The win avenged a 1-0 loss to Assumption during the regular season and gave Regina (16-5) its sixth state title, third most all-time and all coming in the past nine seasons.
It was the first title for Regina since 2014 and improved the Regals to 6-0 all-time in state title games.
“We’ve won six state championships and five of them were by a single goal,” Regina coach Rick Larew said. “Every championship but one has been by one goal and this time we got that break in front of the goal.”
Regina made the early goal from Pechous stand up on Saturday, posting its fourth consecutive postseason shutout.
The Regals didn’t allow a goal in 260 minutes at the state tournament while defeating the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 ranked teams.
“We changed a few things and we just really focused on making sure our offense had the ball, making sure we had possession,” Regina senior Tommy Rapp said. “We didn’t let a goal in, when they don’t score that just makes everything easier on our offense.”
Assumption had an early opportunity of its own but couldn’t capitalize as Regina freshman goal keeper stopped a Trent Fitzpatrick shot in the opening five minutes.
Regina took advantage of its early chance.
Yowell sent a corner kick toward the back post and a charging Pechous broke free and hot enough on the ball to redirect it past Assumption keeper Gaige Ash.
“In practice a couple of weeks ago I started instead of getting on the goalie I started making runs off the back post,” Pechous said. “I saw it open this game.”
After facing Assumption early in the season at the Catholic Schools Tournament in Cedar Rapids and scouting the Knights at state Larew was concerned about allowing a goal on a corner kick.
Instead it was Regina that used the set piece situation to its advantage.
“We didn’t expect to score on a corner kick I was worried about them scoring on one,” Larew said. “Nicholas Yowell put up a nice ball and Nick Pechous got on the back end of it and it sort of more rolled into the net more than anything else but it was a nice goal none the less.”
The goal proved to be enough as Dutchik and the Regina defense came up big time and time again.
Assumption had a pair of solid chances to equalize in the final 20 minutes but Dutchik made a sliding save off a free kick and John Gorzney had a shot from 20 yards out roll just wide in the 70th minute.
“We have two seniors back there and wanted to bring a state championship home,” Pechous said. “Josh as a freshman let all his nerves go and just played his game.”
Pechous accounted for three of the four state tournament goals for Regina and was named captain of the Class 1A all-tournament team.
Rapp, Dutchik and sophomore Jonah Warren joined Pechous on the all-tournament list.
“It’s an amazing feeling, there is no feeling like winning a state championship and to do it with this team its great,” Rapp said. “These are the boys and to be out here playing with these guys winning a championship there is nothing better.”