Your Prep Sports
It is win or go home time for high school soccer teams in the state.
The postseason gets rolling on Thursday with Class 1A quarterfinals kicking off the postseason.
Once again the Your Prep Sports area features some of the top teams in the state and should be well represented at the State Soccer Tournament that will take place June 1st, 3rd and 4th at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
Before the state tournament arrives we take a look at what to watch in the substates that will set the state field.
The Your Prep Sports area has long been home to some of the best soccer teams in the state.
With six teams in the most recent Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings this season is no exception.
This season the Your Prep Sports area also features some of the most dynamic goals scorers the state has to offer.
Three of the top eight scorers in the state are from the Your Prep Sports area with all three ranking in the top four in their respective classes in goals.
West Branch senior Peyton Miller ranks third in the state and leads Class 1A with 33 goals.
West High junior Michael Nelson has 30 goals to rank eighth in the state and fourth in 3A and Solon senior Dillon Bruck ranks ninth in the state and is second in 2A with 29 goals.
West Branch enters the postseason among the hottest teams in Class 1A.
The Bears have won nine straight entering their Class 1A, Substate 4 opener on Thursday at home against Tipton (4-8) pushing its season win total to a school-record 12 and climbing back into the 1A rankings at No. 16.
West Branch defeated Tipton 3-0 back on April 1 and downed the Tigers in its postseason opener last season before falling to Solon in the semifinals.
With Miller getting help from sophomore Joe Hamann (12 goals) and senior Gage Gingerich (10 goals) along with a manageable substate draw that includes a potential semifinal at home against Prince of Peace (8-5) or Cascade (6-7) the Bears are set up for a run at a substate final where top-ranked Davenport Assumption (10-5) likely awaits.
Keeping the Streak
Covid kept Regina from competing at the state soccer tournament in 2020.
The national pandemic of course wiped out the entire 2020 spring sports season and that’s what it took to stop the Regals from reaching state.
Regina was right back at it last season returning to the state tournament for the 13th consecutive season where it reached the 1A semifinals.
The road to a 14th consecutive appearance is a tough one for No. 14 Regina (8-11) which hosts Anamosa (1-13) in a 1A, Substate 3 opener on Thursday.
With a win Regina would host No. 15 Waterloo Columbus (9-8) or Cedar Valley Christian (6-8) in the semifinals with ninth-ranked Dyersville Beckman (12-3) the top seed.
Regina defeated Waterloo Columbus in penalty kicks on April 19 and lost to Dyersville Beckman 2-1 on April 30.
Stopping the Streak
While Regina is attempt to extend its streak of consecutive state tournament appearances Solon would like nothing more than to stop a stretch of consecutive substate final losses.
Since reaching the state tournament in 2017 the Spartans have lost in substate finals each of the past three seasons, with the last two substate final losses coming by a single goal.
This season the Spartans seem to have what it takes to stop that streak.
Bruck is dynamic up top and has an experienced sidekick in senior William Wittich (10 goals, 8 assists).
The Spartans have been impressive this season.
Solon brings an eight-match winning streak into the postseason, has recorded fie consecutive shutouts and at least three goals in 12 of 16 matches.
No. 13 Solon (14-2) hosts Aplington-Parkersburg/Dike-New Hartford (1-10) in a 2A, Substate 5 quarterfinal on Thursday and would get the Mount Vernon (6-10) and Independence (3-14) winner at Spartan Stadium in a Monday semifinal.
Fourth-ranked Bondurant-Farrar (15-2) the top seed and likely the Spartans opponent if they reach a fifth consecutive substate final.
City High’s Road (Trip) to State
Perhaps no area team got a more difficult or longer (literally) road to state.
No. 12 City High (10-5) will host the winner of Linn-Mar (9-9) and Waterloo East (0-15) in a 3A, Substate 3 semifinal on Monday but would likely have to hit the road to face second-ranked Johnston (16-1) in the substate final.
The Little Hawks are always a postseason threat under long-time coach Jose Fajardo and have proven they can compete with the best in the state.
City High enters the postseason on a four-match winning streak after downing Liberty High in penalty kicks in the regular season finale and have a win over fifth-ranked Ankeny Centennial on its regular season resume.
Before it can think about a trip to Johnston City High must take care of business in the semifinal.
Linn-Mar defeated City High 3-1 last month in Marion and has won three of its last five.
Another Final for West?
This was tabbed as a bit of a rebuilding year for perennial power West High after enduring large losses to graduation from last year’s runner-up team.
Instead West High has been its usual impressive self.
The Trojans are 16-2, riding a 12-match winning streak and ranked sixth entering the 3A postseason.
The 3A runner-up the past two seasons West High doesn’t have to leave Barker Field to reach the state tournament for the sixth consecutive season.
West High will host the winner of Davenport Central and Dubuque Senior in the Substate 4 semifinals and would likely face No. 16 Cedar Falls in the substate final.
History in the Making
It has already been a history-making season for Liberty High.
The Lightning have already raced past the previous program record for wins with its 14-3 record and enters the postseason ranked 10th in Class 3A.
Now the Lightning get the chance to make it a truly historic season.
The Lightning are two wins away from the first state tournament berth in program history.
Liberty High will host the winner of the 3A, Substate 5 quarterfinal between North Scott (10-5) and Clinton (5-11) in a semifinal on Monday.
The likely substate final opponent is ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie (14-3) which defeated Liberty High 1-0 back on May 3.