DES MOINES — Sometimes the soccer gods allow a team which had the lesser of the play to win. But they probably got this one right.
Jerry Duball’s goal 3:34 into the first overtime gave Cedar Rapids Xavier a 3-2 win over Sioux City Heelan in a thriller of a Class 2A state quarterfinal at Cownie Park.
Duball took a through ball from teammate Connor Ramlo in the penalty box to the left of the net, took his time to set up and drilled a shot into the right corner to move Xavier (10-9) onto Friday afternoon’s semifinals opposite Norwalk (13-6).
“It was all his,” Duball said of Ramlo. “There couldn’t have been a better ball. I didn’t have to sprint onto it. I just had to give some speed and just place it.”
The Saints are the eighth seed here in name only. They are defending 2A champs and lost all of their games to 3A clubs.
Quite frankly, they outplayed top-seeded Heelan (12-4), with the Crusaders tying things on an own goal early in the second half and via Joe Kipp’s goal with 6:26 left.
“It’s really scary because soccer is a cruel game that way. You miss those opportunities, they don’t come often,” said Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic. “Usually punishment just comes right around the corner. I have been in many games playing and coaching where exactly that happened. We missed three or four chances to (put) them away, then the situation happens five minutes until the end where they tie the game and you scramble for your life.
“There is no question in my mind we were the better team today. That is not meant as disrespect to Heelan.”
Duball, a senior midfielder, scored with 12:12 left in the first half to give Xavier a 1-0 halftime lead. Heelan tied it 11 minutes into the second half when Saints defender Jeremy Jacoby inadvertently headed a Heelan free kick from 35 yards out bouncing over charging keeper Nick Huss.
“It’s really tough because you blame the guy who makes the own goal,” Hadzic said. “But there are lots of things happening before that. Should we give up that free kick? Should the goalkeeper say ‘Mine’ when he’s going for a ball like that? ... Jeremy is one of our better guys in the air, and he goes for everything. We give permission to do that. Unfortunately in this situation, he jumped maybe a tenth of a second too early, so he hit the ball on the way down.”
Joshua Hoffman gave Xavier a 2-1 lead seven minutes later on a counter attack that saw terrific passing from sophomore Connor Vogl and Duball. Heelan star striker Connor Gill gave a nifty drop pass from the side of the net out front to Kipp, who tied it late in regulation.
“I feel like we gave them the two goals, to be honest,” Duball said. “Our defense is stellar, our team is stellar. We made a couple mistakes, and that was how they were able to score. But I think we controlled most of the game.”
Hadzic shared a few words with Duball immediately after his winner.
“Sometimes he was doubtful (about) can he make it on a big stage, but I always believed in him,” the coach said. “I told him when he was a senior that everyone would respect him and realize that he is one of the best players in the state. He proved it today. He was really great.”
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