Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – For the second straight season there will be an eight seed playing for the Class 3A state title.
A year after an improbable state title run as the eight seed West High found itself on the opposite end of an eight seed upset.
Sully Bolles broke a 1-1 tie with a goal in the 73rd minute to lift eighth-seeded Waukee to a 2-1 win over No. 5 West High (18-4) in a 3A state semifinal on Friday at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“I think finally the seedings in the substates are getting right so the eight seed isn’t a typical eight seed and that is just better for the tournament in general,” West High coach Brad Stiles said. “We might have gotten by with a little bit of lack of karma today I guess.”
Waukee (14-5) opened the season 5-4 but has won nine of its last 10 matches, including 2-1 wins over top-ranked West Des Moines Valley and West High at the state tournament to reach the 3A state finals for the first time.
The Warriors will be making their first title game appearance of any kind since winning the 1A crown in 2001 when they face third-ranked Bettendorf (16-2) on Saturday at 5 p.m.
“A lot of people thought we couldn’t do it because of our preseason,” Bolles said. “Our team just kept playing and kept working because we knew we had the talent to get here.”
West High had a few bounces go its way a year ago during its state tournament run that started as the eight seeded and ended with the ninth state title in program history.
This year it is eighth-seeded Waukee that has benefitted from those bounces.
Waukee scored a goal six minutes into overtime to upset top-seeded West Des Moines Valley in the quarterfinals on Thursday and used a deflected goal by Bolles to upend West High on Friday.
“We wanted this all season,” Bolles said. “We started off a little bit iffy but kept on playing and working our hardest because we knew we had a great team to play with.”
Following a scoreless first Waukee got on the board in the 50th minute when Lucas Gutierrez launched a free kick into the upper left corner of the goal from just outside the box.
West High needed 21 seconds to answer.
Gada Ambo slipped a pass in front of the goal to freshman Marko Migambi to even the match 1-1.
Bolles broke the tie in the 73rd minute when his shot from inside the box deflected off a West High defender and into the goal.
“I took a shot and it deflected off a defender and I just got the bounce,” Bolles said. “I knew when I saw it rolling it was in. I watched it all the way in.”
The side referee threw up his flag to indicate offside on the play but after a brief discussion the goal was ruled good.
“I’m pretty sure the guy that ran onto the ball ran onto it it’s not like had to come from backwards to get it,” Stiles said. “So when the referee threw up his flag I didn’t think it was going to be offsides.”
West High tried to mount a late offensive push but struggled to come up with any chances in the final seven minutes.
“I think they were just more composed,” Stiles said. “I tell you what they out-talked us that’s for sure, my guys were extremely quiet today and I don’t know if it was nerves or heat but it’s pretty frustrating when two guys go up for a ball and it’s June and that’s stuff that should be happening at the end of March not June.”
West High had a 13-match winning streak end with the loss and came up a win shy of a ninth title game appearance in 12 seasons.
The Trojans will take on sixth-ranked Ankeny (16-5) in the third-place match on Saturday at 4:10 p.m.
“The seniors held us together throughout the year and for these guys to get two extra games at the end of the year is a huge benefit for our program going forward because almost 50 percent of our roster is a ninth-grader or a tenth-graders,” Stiles said. “Just to have this experience I think is going to be a good card to have in our pocket.”