DES MOINES– Call it unlucky.
The Solon Spartans were just over a minute away from what appeared to be a certain overtime against Iowa City Regina in the 1A state soccer championship game.
But it was not to be.
Regina’s Johnny Rummelhart was speeding into Solon’s half of the field and was cut off by Solon defender Nick Day. But the ball didn’t clear, it dropped in front of Regal Zach Pechous, who nudged it further away from Spartan goalie Derrick Loveless, and Regina’s Chris Nott tapped it in.
With 1:19 remaining in regulation, the Regals had stunned a Spartan team that had been growing stronger in the second half. Iowa City Regina captured its third-straight soccer title, and Solon became the runner-up of its first-ever state soccer appearance.
The Spartans fell to Regina 1-0 in the championship game of the 1A state soccer tournament Saturday at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines. It was a muggy, sweltering defensive struggle from the get-go.
Less than a handful of shots on goal for either side; lots of play sideline-to-sideline in the middle of the field.
The winning goal was the only one allowed in three games by the Spartans.
Solon defeated the Falcons of Council Bluffs St. Albert 1-0 in the quarterfinal Thursday, and pushed past eighth-seeded MOC-Floyd Valley of Orange City 2-0 in the semifinal Friday.
Against St. Albert, junior Andrew Barenz scored the winning goal in the first half.
“I just tapped it in,” Barenz said.
Marshall Koehn was credited with the assist on Barenz’ goal, which bounced off of the goalie’s chest, and landed in front of Barenz, who gave it a tap to score with just under four minutes left to go in the first half.
“It’s great to be here, to get a win,” Barenz said, adding “we’ve been wanting to get to state.”
Solon’s 14 shots-on-goal to St. Albert’s three was testimony to that. McMurrin noted unlike some other squads at state, his crew has “maybe two club (soccer) kids.
“A lot of these kids haven’t played soccer since fifth grade, until they were freshmen.”
In the semifinal against MOC-Floyd Valley, Marshall Koehn and Nick Brown scored on assists by Turner Wentzien and Max Alberhasky for a 2-0 win.
Koehn finished the season with 33 goals to lead Class 1A, and was second in assists, according to Quikstatsiowa.com.
“They may not be the greatest soccer team in the world,” Coach Jeremy McMurrin said, “but we will out-athletic most teams. We’re quick, we’re physical.”