Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – In 15 trips to the state tournament Regina coach Rick Larew has seen just about every imaginable soccer scenario.
The conclusion of Thursday’s Class 1A state semifinal was uncharted territory even for Larew.
Fourth-ranked Western Christian edged second-ranked Regina (18-5) in a penalty kick shootout that wasn’t decided until the 10th attempt on its way to a 2-1 win over the Regals on warm and muggy afternoon at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“I’ve never gone this long (in penalty kicks),” Larew said. “Earlier this year we went to seven but I’ve never gone to 10. We practice going to 10 on a regular basis but it didn’t work out for us this time.”
Western Christian (14-2) scored a goal with 4:30 remaining to force overtime and after two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods earned a 9-8 edge in penalty kicks over Regina to advance to the 1A title game for the third consecutive season.
The two-time defending runner-up, Western Christian lost the 1A championship to Davenport Assumption last season in a shootout.
“Last year we lost the state champion in pens but that was only in five,” Western Christian coach Sou Baccam said. “Ten? I just told our guys they added 10 years to my life.”
Western Christian will face top-ranked Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck (20-0) in the 1A championship on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck defeated third-ranked Des Moines Christian in a penalty kick shootout in the other 1A semifinal on Thursday.
“Big credit to Regina, we have a lot of respect for those guys,” Baccam said. “They have been here a lot and have a lot of tradition down here so for us it’s big to be able to compete with those guys.”
Making its 13th semifinal appearance in the past 15 seasons, Regina jumped to an early lead on Thursday.
Junior Jack Hoover gave Regina a 1-0 lead with a goal in the 18th minute when he hammered a shot from just outside the top of the box off the right post and in.
It was the third goal of the state tournament and team-leading 14 of the season for Hoover.
Regina led until the final five minutes when Western Christian got the equalizer as Aidan Ouwinga headed in a perfectly placed corner kick from Miles Baccam with 4:30 remaining.
“Aidan (Ouwinga) is one of our better players, he’s a captain and we like to bring him forward on our corners and some set pieces just because he’s athletic and he can jump,” Sou Baccam said. “He’s just got a knack for heading the ball and finding the ball.”
After 20 scoreless minutes of overtime the game came down to penalty kicks.
Western Christian opened the penalty kick shootout with a Zachary Minderhoud attempt sailing high.
The Wolfpack wouldn’t miss again, converting on their next nine attempts.
“They are a great team and they played really well,” Larew said. “They deserved to win it was their victory.”
Regina senior keeper Dylan Vittetoe got his hands on four different Wolfpack attempts but couldn’t keep them out of the net.
“So close right? So close,” Larew said. “We didn’t get it done and congratulations to them.”
Sophomore Barret Bleeker converted the 10th penalty kick attempt for West Branch to give the Wolfpack a 9-8 lead.
Junior keeper JD Petitt then sealed then win when he saved an attempt from Regina sophomore Matt Colony.
“I thought we did pretty well, what did we hit eight out of 10, that’s pretty good,” Larew said. “Matt Colony really stepped up and took Laird’s (Holden) shot after he went out. It was a tough loss. You’d sure like to win those.”