Boys State Soccer: Xavier Escapes Wahlert, Gets To 2A Semis

By Grant Burkhardt (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 - For nearly 52 minutes, Xavier worked its way to the leading side of a tilted scoreboard.

2A's top-seed led by 3 goals to nil and wound up needing all three to beat pesky Dubuque Wahlert, 3-2, Thursday afternoon in a state quarterfinal at Drake University's Cownie Soccer Park.

The Saints (12-5) will play No. 4 Pella Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the 2A semifinal. The Dutch outlasted Norwalk, 1-0.

Staring at a scoreless match in the 26th minute, Xavier's Luke Kuechner headed in a corner (his fourth) for a 1-0 lead. Ten minutes later, off a sure-footed, patient back-pass from Kuechner, Jerry Duball fired a 24-yarder off the shaky fists off Wahlert's goalkeeper and into the net. The goal was the junior midfielder's first of the season.

Then the Eagles (7-10) woke up after the half and owned the first 10 minutes, getting their best chances of the game, all of which were turned away by the sure-handed Paul Cavin.

In the 52nd minute, the Saints put together a beauty of a counter-attack, a classic breakout. The run was started by the hard work of Eli Smith, who got the ball to Connor Ramlo in space at midfield. The sophomore took one touch and threaded a lovely ball to Isaac Frisch, who burned a Wahlert defender and scored his team-leading 13th of the season.

"It was a great ball from Connor, all the credit to him," Frisch said. "I just had to put it in the goal."

Wahlert found its way back as the clock continued. A 66th-minute corner-kick header from Justin Allendorf (his fourth) got the Eagles within 3-1.

Xavier conceded again as a rebound found the foot of Nick Memmers, who slotted a left-footed shot past Cavin for the Eagles' second goal.

That was all Wahlert could muster, but the game didn't end without drama. Less than two minutes remained when Raj Mehta crossed a speeding cross into a wide-open six-yard box where Mitch Thiessen was the only occupant. The ball evaded the Wahlert junior's boot and rolled over the end line to end the last real threat of the game.

"We didn't play a very good first half, " Wahlert head coach Justin McCord said. "[We] had chances at the end. We feel like we let it get away a little bit."

It was a second half domination that perhaps will make Xavier supporters worry, but then again Wahlert beat the Saints 2-1 less than three weeks ago.

"It's good to get a little bit of redemption," Frisch said. "A win's a win for us, as long as we come back stronger tomorrow. We know we have to work as a family, and that's' what we've done to this point."
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