Your Prep Sports
Spots at the boys state soccer tournament are up for grabs on Wednesday with substate finals across all three classes.
By the end of the day on Wednesday the 24 teams headed to Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines next week will be set.
Before the focus turns to the state tournament next week we take a look at the substate finals featuring Your Prep Sports area teams.
Class 3A, Substate 3
No. 11 City High (11-5) at No. 2 Johnston (17-1)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Johnston High School
Top players: Johnston – Wilmont Manneh, Sr., 23 goals, 15 assists. City High – Aaron Rutherford, Sr.
About the Little Hawks: City High will look to snap a mini state tournament drought with its first trip to state since 2018.
The Little Hawks have been one of the best teams in the state at peaking in the postseason reaching the state tournament seven consecutive seasons from 2012 to 2018 and have the look of a team hitting stride at the right time once again.
City High brings a five-match winning streak into the substate final after avenging a regular season loss to Linn-Mar with a 2-0 win over the Lions in the substate semifinal.
The Little Hawks have wins over top-10 opponents Cedar Rapids Prairie and Liberty High during its current winning streak and have scored two or more goals in three of five matches.
About the Dragons: A state semifinalist a year ago, Johnston is seeking a return to the state tournament and brings an eight-match winning streak into the substate title game.
Since a 2-1 loss to Des Moines Hoover on April 22 the Dragons are unbeaten outscoring opponents 31-7.
What to Watch: Johnston has one of the most dangerous goal scorers in Class 3A this season in senior Wilmont Manneh who ranks sixth in 3A with 23 goals this season.
Facing dynamic scorers is nothing new to City High which has already had to deal with the likes of Cedar Falls senior Truman Unruh who leads 3A with 38 goals and West High standout Michael Nelson who has 33 goals this season.
Since allowing three goals in a loss at Linn-Mar on April 26 City High has not allowed more than one goal in a match just once and hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a match.
It will take another sound defensive outing from the Little Hawks to advance.
Class 3A, Substate 4
No. 16 Cedar Falls (12-4) at No. 6 West High (17-2)
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Barker Field
Top players: West High – Michael Nelson, Jr., 30 goals, 7 assists. Cedar Falls – Truman Unruh, Sr., 38 goals, 10 assists.
About the Tigers: Cedar Falls is seeking back-to-back state tournament trips for the first time since 2007 after returning to the state tournament for the first time since 2009 a year ago.
Senior standout Truman Unruh scored two goals as the Tigers avenged a regular season loss to Waterloo West with a 4-2 win over the Wahawks in the substate semifinals.
Since the loss to Waterloo West on April 12 all three losses for Cedar Falls have come to top-10 teams in Waukee Northwest, Liberty High and Cedar Rapids Prairie.
In four matches against ranked opponents this season Cedar Falls has scored four goals and the Tigers have scored 78 goals in its 12 other matches this season.
About the Trojans: Among the most successful postseason teams in state history West High is seeking a sixth consecutive trip to the state tournament and the 22nd in program history.
The two-time defending 3A runner-up, West High enters the substate final as one of the hottest teams in Class 3A.
The Trojans are riding a 13-match winning streak and have scored at least two goals in 12 of 13 matches during its current winning streak.
West High has seven shutouts during its current winning streak and has allowed more than one goal in a match just three times this season.
What to Watch: There may not be a better matchup of individual talents anywhere in the state on Wednesday than the head-to-head showdown between West High junior Michael Nelson and Cedar Falls senior Truman Unruh.
Unruh leads Class 3A with 38 goals this season in just 16 matches and also has 10 assists.
Nelson is third in 3A with 33 goals and is coming off a three-goal effort in the semifinal win over Dubuque Senior.
There are other strong players on both sides but which team gets a super effort from its superstar on Wednesday could have the edge.
Class 3A, Substate 5
No. 10 Liberty High (15-3) at No. 9 Cedar Rapids Prairie (15-3)
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Cedar Rapids Prairie High School
Top players: Cedar Rapids Prairie – Tyler Fear, Sr., 19 goals, 6 assists. Liberty High – Amah Ajavon Sr., 15 goals, 6 assists.
About the Lightning: It has already been a historic season for Liberty High which has won a program-record 15 matches and risen to number one in the 3A rankings.
Now the Lightning will try to add a big piece to the history book with the first state tournament appearance in program history.
All three losses for Liberty High this season have come by a single goal including a 1-0 loss to Cedar Rapids Prairie back on May 3.
Liberty High has won five of six since the loss to Prairie posting shutouts in all five wins and allowing just one goal during that stretch.
Senior keeper Jaxyn Logan is one of the best around, allowing just seven goals this season and will keep the Lightning in every match.
Liberty High has three players with at least three goals led by senior Amah Ajavon with 15 goals while Flori Gembo (12 goals) and Joslin Gembo (10 goals) are both double-digit scorers.
About the Hawks: Cedar Rapids Prairie has quickly become a state tournament regular qualifying three of the past four seasons.
The Hawks lost 1-0 in 3A state quarterfinals to eventually champion Pleasant Valley last season.
Prairie has rounded into form late, winning 10 of its last 11 including a 2-1 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the substate semifinal.
The Hawks have relied on a balanced attack led by senior Tyler Fear who ranks 10th in 3A with 19 goals.
Fear leads seven Prairie players with at least seven goals this season along with sophomore Gavin Lewis who has scored 12 goals and has 11 assists.
What to Watch: One of two substate final rematches for area teams these two Mississippi Valley Conference rivals met for the second time in a little more than three weeks after Prairie won the first meeting 1-0 on May 3.
Don’t expect much scoring in this one.
Prairie has made a habit of playing in tight game with eight of its 18 matches this season decided by a single goal.
Class 2A, Substate 5
No. 13 Solon (16-2) at No. 5 Bondurant-Farrar (16-2)
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Bondurant-Farrar High School
Top players: Solon – Dillon Bruck, Sr., 32 goals, 4 assists. Bondurant-Farrar – Caleb Gymer, Sr., 27 goals, 9 assists.
About the Spartans: Solon will look to snap a three-game substate final match losing streak after falling to Regina in the substate title game a year ago.
The Spartans last reached the state tournament in 2017 and have advanced to the substate final each of the past three seasons but haven’t been able to get over the hump.
This may be the season the Spartans are able to do just that.
Solon has perhaps its most complete team in recent history led by a senior standout Dillon Bruck up top, John Peters in goal and senior William Wittich in the midfield.
Solon brings a 10-match winning streak into the substate final and has posted seven shutouts during that stretch while scoring at least two goals in all 10 matches.
About the Bluejays: In its first trip to the state tournament since 2009 Bondurant-Farrar went all the way to the 2A title game last season falling to Cedar Rapids Xavier 2-0 in the championship match.
The defending 2A runner-up, Bondurant-Farrar has been equally impressive this season outscoring opponents by 78 goals.
The lone two losses for Bondurant-Farrar this season have come to 3A opponents Des Moines East and West High and the Bluejays also have a win over 3A foe Waukee.
What to Watch: Bondurant-Farrar has been one of the toughest teams to score on in Class 2A this season.
The Bluejays have posted 13 shutouts in 18 matches this season and have allowed just seven goals all season.
Of the seven goals allowed this season five have come in matches against 3A opponents.
Solon has shown it is capable of putting up goals this season starting with Bruck who ranks second in 2A with 31 goals this season.
Scoring opportunities should be at a premium for both sides making finishing chances of the utmost importance.
Class 1A, Substate 3
No. 14 Regina (10-11) vs. No. 9 Dyersville Beckman (14-3)
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Dyersville Beckman High School
Top players: Dyersville Beckman – Ryan Burchard, Sr., 21 goals, 6 assists. Regina – Kaleab Wendy, Soph., 15 goals, 4 assists.
About the Regals: Regina has reached the state tournament 13 consecutive seasons, the third longest state tournament streak in state history.
The Regals will have their work cut out for them to extend that streak to 14.
Regina has followed its familiar formula to the substate final, challenging itself with a schedule filled with larger schools and ranked opponents.
Nine of the 11 losses for Regina have come to Class 2A and 3A opponents with the lone losses to 1A teams coming against Beckman and fifth-ranked Burlington Notre Dame.
Regina advanced to the substate final with a 1-0 win over No. 15 Waterloo Columbus.
About the Blazers: Among the most successful postseason teams in Class 1A over the last decade Dyersville Beckman is seeking first trip to state since 2017.
That is a long drought for a Beckman program that won back-to-back state titles in 2016 and 2017 during a stretch of six consecutive state tournament appearances.
The Blazers bring an eight-match winning streak into the substate final in which they have outscored opponents 45-4.
What to Watch: Another regular season rematch comes between two of the top 1A programs in the state.
Dyersville Beckman won the regular season meeting 2-1 back on April 30.
Logan Burchard and Ryan Burchard each had goals for Beckman in the regular season win and the two have combined to score 41 of the Blazers’ 68 goals this season.
Shutting down the Burchards is easier said than done but in a game that should be tight it may be the most important key for a Regina win.