Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Qualifying for the state tournament is a unique experience for most team.
For Regina it was failing to reach the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade last season that provided an unusual moment.
“Missing it last year just felt odd,” Regina senior Will Lipsius said. “It felt unreal that we didn’t make it which sounds weird because most teams don’t make.”
In its return trip to the state tournament on Tuesday Regina got back to where it expects to be this time of year.
Second-ranked Regina advanced to the 1A semifinals for the 13th time in the past 15 seasons with a 2-1 win over River Valley Conference rival West Liberty (15-3) in a Class 1A quarterfinal at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“It’s really fun,” Regina junior Jack Hoover said. “Last year we didn’t make it to state and we broke a streak but we bounced back this year.”
Hoover scored a pair oof goals in a span of less than four minutes in the opening half as Regina (18-4) overcame an early deficit to return to the 1A semifinals for the first time since 2021.
Regina will face fourth-ranked Western Christian (13-2) in the 1A semifinals on Thursday at 10:10 a.m. on Thursday.
Western Christian defeated sixth-ranked Treynor 1-0 in a quarterfinal on Tuesday.
“It means the world to be back here,” Lipsius said. “It means so much to everyone. Everyone is putting in all the effort, we have a couple of people bleeding because they are putting in all they can to every game.”
Regina defeated fifth-ranked West Liberty 1-0 in a regular season match back on April 28.
The Comets came out firing in the rematch on Tuesday, taking a 1-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the match.
West Liberty led 1-0 after Juan Mateo slipped in a shot from the lest side of the box in the 11th minute.
“They are very talented, they play hard, they are coached well, they know what they want to do and I’ll be honest with you for at least half of the game they were playing the game they wanted to play more than the one we wanted to play,” Regina coach Rick Larew said. “I think you saw stretches where we were playing more possession sort of game and making them work harder. I knew they didn’t go as deep as we did so I really wanted to make them work harder.”
Regina didn’t need long to respond.
Hoover scored twice in a span of less than four minutes to give Regina a 2-1 lead it would never give up.
“Our coaches talked about it, no matter what, no matter how the game starts we are just going to stick to our game plan,” Hoover said. “That’s what we did and we got two quick goals.”
Hoover provided the equalizier in the 19th minute when he popped up a shot from inside the box over the top of West Liberty keeper Ruben Meraz.
“Laird (Holden) chipped a ball over the defense and I had a guy on my left and I just poked it over the keeper with my right foot,” Hoover said. “Once we got that goal we knew we could come back.”
Just a few minutes later Hoover struck a game hammering a rocket into the upper right hand corner of the goal from outside the box to give the Regals a 2-1 lead with 18:21 remaining in the first half.
“I had no worries,” Lipsius said. “I had no worries after that I had full confidence in everyone and our ability to score.”
The Regina kept West Liberty off the scoreboard for the final 60 plus minutes while advancing to the 1A semifinals.