Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Pleasant Valley coach Wayne Ward didn’t need years and years of experience to come up with a fail proof plan for success at the state soccer tournament.
“I’ve said all along if you don’t concede then you can’t lose,” Ward said with a smile on Wednesday.
So far Pleasant Valley has proved that theory to absolute perfection.
Defending 3A state champion Pleasant Valley posted its fourth shutout in as many matches at the state tournament on Wednesday blanking West High 2-0 in a Class 3A quarterfinal at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
Fourth-ranked Pleasant Valley (17-1) scored twice in the second half and posted its 15th shutout of the season to return to the 3A semifinals where it will face ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie (17-3) on Friday at 5:10 p.m.
“We were fortunate, don’t get me wrong but defensively we were rock solid man,” Ward said. “They have some boys who can play, Michael Nelson and Miguel (Cohen Suarez) and we were scared to death of them honestly and the boys stepped up and then getting in on the other end. We had two great goals.”
Justin Ancelet snapped a scoreless tie when he chipped in a perfectly threaded through ball from Aiden Stoflet for a goal less than four minutes into the second half.
“There were no magic words at halftime,” Ward said. “I think it was more a case of guys what we are doing is right, we were just half a step off scoring and if we keep it going it’s just going to happen. We had to believe that was going to happen.”
West High (18-3) had a chance to pull even with 13 minutes remaining when Nelson was fouled in the box resulting in a penalty kick.
The junior who set the all-time West High single season scoring record with 36 goals this spring had his potential game-tying penalty kick attempt sail just over the cross bar.
“I knew Nelson was going to get fouled and someone else was going to take the penalty. We have a little bit of a rule where the guy that gets fouled doesn’t take the penalty and I broke it today thinking that Nelson would shoot low and left and he went high and tight,” West High coach Brad Stiles said. “It happens.”
The final 13 minutes the Pleasant Valley defense didn’t allow much space for West High’s potent offensive threats.
Aidan Judd gave the Spartans a 2-0 cushion when he slipped a shot into the lower left corner of the goal from the right side of the box with 7:29 remaining.
“I think from a style standpoint it played out like we thought it would,” Stiles said. “It’s just a matter of they were better at what they do than what we did today.”
Pleasant Valley improved to 4-0 all-time in state tournament matches after winning the 3A title last season in its debut performance in Des Moines.
The Spartans shutout West High 1-0 in the 3A title game a year ago and this season have allowed a total of six goals in 18 matches.
“They pick off every pass and if the pass isn’t intercepted than the touch is pressured,” Stiles said. “That overall team speed and it just comes down to day-to-day training and their coaching is tough to get around.”