Dominant possession time not enough for Nevada at state

Joe Randleman Staff Writer
Nevada defender Jack Cahill helps up senior center-back Dennis Garcia after the Cubs’ heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Williamsburg in the Class 1A quarterfinals of the boys’ state soccer tournament May 31 at the Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines. Garcia and the rest of the Nevada senior class took the program from 3-15 as freshman to 12-8 and its first trip to state in five years in 2018.

DES MOINES — It was one of those days where everything went your way except on the scoreboard for the Nevada boys’ soccer team in a 2-1 Class 1A state quarterfinal loss to Williamsburg May 31 at the Cownie Soccer Park.

Nevada entered the game as the No. 7 seed, going up against the No. 2 seed. But the Cubs clearly looked like the higher seed, dominating possession in both halves.

“It kind of hurts to lose, but I thought we played great,” Nevada midfielder Devin See said. “Playing as well as we did and possessing the ball as much as we did against a 2 seed, that’s something to hang our hats on.”

In the first half, Williamsburg jumped out on top on a mid-range shot by Matthew Cronquist just 6 ½ minutes into the game. But that was the Raiders’ only good look of the entire half as Nevada kept the ball near the Williamsburg goal nearly the entire half.

The Cubs constantly pressured the Raiders, and 25 minutes into the half, Brendan Sellberg got a great look that was deflected by Williamsburg keeper Joe Phillips. The ball went out of bounds and Kody Kruschwitz followed with a header off a corner kick that was just off the mark.

Three minutes later Nevada broke through. Freshman forward Jose Buenrrostro was fouled in the penalty box and went on to convert the penalty kick with 11:35 left in the half to tie the score.

The score remained 1-1 going into halftime. Williamsburg came out and executed a great run shortly after play resumed, with Zach Litwiller getting a breakaway that resulted in the Raiders’ second goal just 8:24 into the half.

Nevada regrouped and began possessing the ball once again.

The Cubs got off two good looks from the 14th through 18th minutes of the half. Phillips made a diving stop on a See shot during the 54th minute and Ayden Rhodes came charging in on a header attempt two minutes later right in front of the net, but got too much on it as it sailed over the goal.

Williamsburg nearly got a goal off a header during the 58th minute, but Cub keeper Gage Maiefski was able to make a stop. The game settled down a little after that, but with just 5:10 left, See got Nevada’s best look of the half, firing a shot that went off the top cross bar.

Nevada’s last gasp came in the final seconds as Rodrigo Perez had a cross stopped by Phillips at the near post to end the game.

“Williamsburg is a great team — their defense and keeper were great,” Nevada head boys’ soccer coach Todd Sampson said. “We tested him quite a bit and he stood there and saved everything. They pressured us well when we had opportunities to shoot and we just couldn’t convert.”

The ability of Nevada to control the game greatly limited Williamsburg’s opportunities on offense. But the Raiders made the most of them.

“They had their two chances and they both went in the net,” Sampson said. “Absolutely kudos to them — they played really well.”

Nevada finished the season at 12-8 and set a school record for goals in a season with 68. That is a huge step forward from the 3-15 record the Cubs had when the current senior players were freshmen.

“My first year, we didn’t do too good — every year we’ve been improving,” Perez said. “We’ve never played on this field and I’m just proud of what we did this year. Our goal was to be state qualifiers and we got it.”

Perez played a key role in a late-season surge that propelled Nevada to state.

He and Sellberg were both part of two medal-winning relay teams at state track — winning the gold in the 3A boys’ 4 X 200. After track, the Cubs rolled through substate play, going 3-0 and whipping a strong Columbus Catholic team by a 5-2 score last Saturday in the substate finals to reach state for the first time since 2013.

“Track got over and Brendan and I were just focusing on soccer,” Perez said. “We were able to go to all the practices, work our butts off and play our game.”

Williamsburg will take a 14-3 record into the 1A state semifinals tomorrow. The Raiders face No. 3 seed Des Moines Christian (16-1) at 12:05 p.m.

Williamsburg 2, Nevada 1

N 1 0 - 1

W 1 1 - 2


First half

W - Matthew Cronquist, 6:30.

N - Jose Buenrrostro (PK), 28:25.

Second half

W - Zach Litwiller, 48:24.