Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – There is no such thing as an easy road to a state title.
It’s also almost impossible to have as tough of a path to a championship as the one Regina navigated the past 10 days.
Regina won five consecutive postseason matches against ranked teams, including state tournament wins over the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 ranked teams to claim its sixth 1A crown in the past nine seasons.
“It is always tough, its never easy to win games here and we saw this again this year against great competition,” Regina coach Rick Larew said. “But this was a particularly tough road.”
Regina was prepared for its tough road at state by a grueling regular season schedule.
Larew has made a habit of testing his team against some of the best competition in eastern Iowa regardless of class.
This fall 14 of Regina’s 16 regular season matches came against teams either ranked or from a larger class.
Six of those matches were against Class 3A competition including losses to fifth-ranked Bettendorf and No. 10 Pleasant Valley.
“We set up to play the best of the best because we know we are going to play the best here,” Regina senior Nick Pechous said. “If we play some of the best in 3A in the regular season we should be ready to play the best in 1A at state.”
Regina got tested immediately in the postseason.
The postseason opener for a top-three team like Regina is often, perhaps even usually, a lopsided contest.
Instead of a comfortable win in its substate opener third-ranked Regina needed a second-half goal to sweat out a 2-1 win over inspired No. 11 Iowa Mennonite squad.
Regina reached state with a 4-0 win over No. 16 Williamsburg and followed with three consecutive wins in three days against three of the state’s best at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“It’s a tough schedule that we play and every time that we win we know that the team is one of the best in the state,” Pechous said. “We had a little bit of a scare in the semifinals but when we got to state we knew there was nothing easy and we showed that.”
Regina downed long-time rival and fourth-ranked Solon 3-0 in the quarterfinals and edged two-time defending state champion Beckman in the semifinals.
The Regals avenged a 1-0 regular season loss with a 1-0 win over second-ranked Davenport Assumption in the 1A title game.
“I think we really do a great job of preparing for this every year we come in and this is our goal and it’s our expectation to come up here to state and be here for a while,” Regina senior Tommy Rapp said. “We prepare, we prepared for three long days and for long games we do a lot of conditioning so I think our advantage is how much we prepare all year for this weekend.”
After starting 6-0 against the gauntlet of a schedule Regina lost five of its next eight matches.
Regina rebounded, closing the season with seven straight wins by a combined score of 19-2.
The Regals outscored 11-1 in the postseason and 5-0 at the state tournament.
The last two or three weeks we didn’t have a single bad practice and just kept getting better,” Larew said. “I think it was a rewarding year in the sense that who would have thought we’d end up in the state final at the beginning of the year with two freshman, four sophomores, four juniors and only two seniors.”