DES MOINES — Cedar Rapids Washington goalkeeper Gunnar Lenzen was the troll under the bridge who scared off anyone approaching his lair. He and his back-row mates held defending champion Iowa City West without a goal, even though the Trojans pounded shot after shot at the net through regulation and one overtime.
Finally, with the tension mounting and the prospects of penalty kicks looming, the Trojans took advantage of the first Warrior misstep, and Wadood Daoud headed in the winner in the 91st minute for a 1-0 victory.
West (20-1) advanced to the championship game at 5 p.m. today against top-ranked and unbeaten Johnston. West is seeking its fifth title in six years and third in a row.
“I don’t know if it’s been done in our class,” West Coach Brad Stiles said of winning three in a row. “So we have a definite test ahead of us. It will be interesting to see how these guys rebound and want to go and fight for something that will be part of history.”
The score came suddenly and, despite West’s many attacks, shockingly. A feeling persisted that this one was destined for PKs.
Garrett Grimsman had the ball along the end line, was stymied and passed to Alex Bode. Bode chipped a pass over the mass of bodies in front of the net to Daoud on the opposite side, and he headed it just inside the post.
“I saw (Bode) at the top of the box and I called for it and made sure he heard me,” Daoud said.
His call of “back side, back side” was so loud it seemed like it came from Stiles.
“One of the things we do is communicate, and when I heard him yelling ‘back side,’ I just floated it up and trusted him that he’d get it in,” Bode said.
“I just had to get a head on it,” Daoud said. “I’ve been in a drought for a while. I think this is the best time for me to have a goal, right? It’s awesome, but we still have work to do.”
“It was kind of an indecision on our part,” Washington Coach J.P. Graham said. “All three of our guys went after the same ball and the other guy (Daoud) got a touch on it. Our guys kind of hesitated because they thought they were all going to run into each other. It’s tough when a little thing like that decides the game.”
Washington’s defense has been its strength, and Friday’s game was more evidence of that.
“To play 100 minutes last night and come out and play that kind of defense against this quality of a team that has a lot of subs and that brings in more and more quality guys, my hat’s off,” Graham said of his defense. “They did a good job.”
The Trojans felt their failure to score was as much their doing as Lenzen and his defenders.
“We had our chances but we just kept hitting it at the keeper, and that was hurting us,” Daoud said.
“I thought we were able to connect some passes there in the second part of the first half,” Stiles said. “It’s just unfortunate the keeper had a magnet on him. Everything we tossed went right at him.”
He did not think of changing his philosophy in the overtimes.
“We thought we had the right formation,” Stiles said. “It was just a matter of plugging in players into positions where we thought they were going to have success. Unfortunately, everything went to the keeper.”
Washington (15-5) will play Linn-Mar in the third-place game at 4:10 p.m. today.