West High, one goal short of a title in 2021, is a serious threat to win it all in 2022

Published: May. 22, 2022 at 10:52 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A 1-0 loss to Pleasant Valley in the 2021 state title game devastated West High senior Miguel Cohen Suarez, who watched the game from the bench.

““I recently had ACL surgery, I was on the sidelines,” Cohen Suarez said. “Losing’s one thing but not getting the chance is worse in my opinion.”

Only a handful of starters from last year’s team returned in 2022, so it’s a little easier for the Trojans to put that loss away. Head coach Brad Stiles is encouraging his squad to do just that.

“We came up one goal short, and a couple of our shots might have been six inches one way or another,” Stiles said. “I’ve thought about all that enough already so I don’t need to ponder that any more.”

Within the young squad, some seniors have emerged as leaders. like goalkeeper Nick McDonnell, who helps his team with stellar play on the field, and leadership off it.

“I feel (leadership) comes naturally. I want our team to succeed. I feel like, especially with a very new and young back line, I really have to help them,” McDonnell said. “I pretty much act like the soccer mom, bring extra shin guards for some kids, bring some extra waters, some extra socks, pretty much do whatever I have to to do to let these guys know that I have their back.”

Another senior leader is Cohen Suarez, who Stiles says is another coach on the field.

“I generally play in the middle of the field so I can see a what’s going on around me,” Cohen Suarez said “Just giving directions ‘shift left, play me now, look upfield’ that kind of stuff is coach-like.”

The Trojans are the No. 1 seed in their substate bracket, but they’re not looking too far ahead.

“Of course I want to win a state title,” Cohen Suarez said. “(But) it’s just one game at a time. If I’m thinking about the state tournament and I’m not giving full respect and full attention to my opponent on Monday, then I’m not gonna be prepared for Monday’s game.”

On Monday, West High takes on a formidable team in Dubuque Senior, who have won three games in a row. In their regular matchup in April, the Trojans took down the Rams 8-2.

“I think this group comes down to when the whistle blows they’re ready to go,” Stiles said. “It’s in between the lines that I can count on them.”

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