Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
Boys State Soccer: Frisch's 'Golden Goal' Sends Xavier To 2A Title Match
By Jeff Johnson (Story) and Josh Christensen (Video), Reporters
The Class 1A, 2A and 3A boys state championship soccer games will be televised live on KCRG 9.2 starting at noon on Saturday, June 1. For full state tournament coverage, go to iowaprepsports.com
DES MOINES, Iowa - This isn't like Joe Namath promising the Super Bowl or anything. Isaac Frisch and his Cedar Rapids Xavier soccer teammates are too young to remember the Jets quarterback anyway.
But when Xavier head coach Amir Hadzic looked at Frisch just as the second overtime was about to begin Friday afternoon, the senior captain literally called his shot and a Saints victory.
"He looked me right in the eyes," Hadzic said. "I asked him 'Do you have it in your legs?' He just kept saying 'I will score. I will score.' He kept repeating it. At the end, after everybody had hugged him, he came over to me and said 'I told you.' I should listen to players a little bit more."
Or at least this one, Coach. It was Frisch's wonderful individual effort in the 96th minute that allowed Xavier to outlast Pella, 2-1, in a dramatic Class 2A state tournament semifinal.
Possessing the ball at the end line to the left of the goal, Frisch deftly maneuvered his way through two defenders and to the clear in the box, chipping a perfectly placed shot over the hands of Pella keeper Ben Robertson. It was a wonderful display of skill from a guy whose teammates kind of had a feeling would be the hero.
"Absolutely," said Xavier's Colin Gunn. "Frisch is the clutchest kid I know."
"Honestly, I never thought it would go to penalty kicks," Frisch said. "I hate that. I hate penalty kicks because it's always so nail biting. I knew we had to finish there and was very hopeful we would do that."
Xavier (13-5) seeks its sixth boys' state soccer title Saturday afternoon when it plays Storm Lake (15-1) at 2:30. The Tornadoes also won their semifinal in double OT against Waverly-Shell Rock, so you're talking about a couple of physically and emotionally drained clubs here.
The primary emotion most of Friday for Xavier was frustration. Pella (14-6-2) employed a defensive strategy that allowed the Saints to have virtually all of the ball possession, corner kicks and offensive opportunities.
It seemed an especially great move after Jacob Vollmar's long kick out front hit the crossbar and deflected to an unmarked David Wiley for a goal against the run of play midway through the first half. Frisch got Xavier back even before halftime with a one-timed kick of a loose ball just outside the box.
The Saints had opportunity upon opportunity in the second half and first overtime to go ahead and/or win it but never did.
"It was definitely frustrating, but you've got to keep your heads up in a game like this," said Gunn, a major force at midfield. "It was up and down. You've just got to capitalize on one of your chances."
Which Frisch finally did.
"It came closer and closer every shot," Frisch said. "We knew that we had to keep pushing and pushing and pushing. We were getting so many shots, we knew one would go in. That's what happened."
For Hadzic, this game was too eerily similar to Xavier's 2007 semifinals loss to Norwalk.
"This was (that) all over again because we were 22-0 at that point in the season, beating everyone, scoring hundreds of goals," he said. "I think we had a 111-to-11 goal differential. Norwalk packed it in just like Pella did. We had chance after chance after chance, and we couldn't put it in. We lost in PKs.
"I was looking up like 'Are you kidding me? Again. I don't know if I can go through this.' But the guys really didn't stop believing. That was the key. Especially in overtime, sometimes you see kids die, but they just kept saying 'Let's keep going, let's keep going.' They believed they could score."
Well, at least one player did.