Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – There were some anxious moments in the final minutes of Regina’s regional final earlier this week.
It should be noted any tension during the second half of a 1-0 win over Cedar Valley Christian that sent Regina back to the state tournament for the seventh straight season was limited to the stands.
The Regals were calm and confident which make sense for a group that has seen nearly every possible pressure situation imaginable over the past four years.
“We weren’t nervous at all,” Regina senior goal keeper Wick said. “I have so much confidence in our team. With all the games we have been in I don’t think there is much that would make us nervous.”
Wick and fellow senior teammates Greyson Dumont and Lauren Gaarde have enjoyed brilliant prep careers filled with stressful situations and postseason successes while seemingly building an immunity to possible nerves.
The trio of recent Regina graduates will cap their careers with a fourth consecutive Class 1A state tournament appearance that opens with a quarterfinal contest against third-ranked Nevada (15-4) on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“I think it means a lot just because it’s our last chance to play as a Regal,” Gaarde said. “These girls have meant so much to us and everyone has stepped up and put the work in.”
Dumont, Gaarde and Wick headline a group of nine seniors that have eighth-ranked Regina (10-7) seeking a third semifinal appearance in four seasons.
Regina lost to Nevada in the 2015 semifinals and fell to Davenport Assumption in the 2016 title game before a 9-0 loss to the Knights in the quarterfinals a year ago.
The Regals are hoping to extend the careers of its battle-tested senior trio by three more days
“It’s very special to end it at state,” Dumont said. “Our freshman year we had some seniors and juniors that really pushed us and made us love the game. Sophomore year we lost in the championship and we are really wanting to get back there.”
The pressure that comes with a state tournament appearance shouldn’t be a factor for this Regina group.
The trio of Wick, Dumont and Gaarde has practically been put in every stressful situation imaginable during their prep careers across several sports.
In addition to helping Regina to four state soccer tournaments the trio were all members of four consecutive state qualifying teams in basketball.
Wick was part of the Regina volleyball team that returned to the state tournament last fall while Gaarde ran on the cross country team that placed sixth at state.
“We are definitely calmer after all the experiences we have had,” Dumont said. “It helps all of those experiences and success in the past. It definitely takes some of the pressure off in a situation like we’ll face this week.”
On the soccer field Wick, Dumont and Gaarde have played a full season worth of win-or-go home games.
Four consecutive seasons of postseason pressure have ended at the state tournament.
“They’ve been huge for the soccer program because of their dedication, because of their hard work and mainly because of their leadership,” Regina coach Ann Larew said. “They have been great leaders for the under classmen, they have been great leaders for their peers and they have really been leaders a lot by example.”
They have all been productive on the field as well.
Dumont and Gaarde are both four-year starters while Wick took over the full-time keeper duties as a sophomore.
Gaarde has 65 career goals to her credit including a team-high 15 this season while Dumont has post career-highs with seven goals and five assists this spring.
“Most of us aren’t going on to play sports in college so we are all very motivated for this week,” Dumont said. “The younger girls want to work for us seniors.”
Regina matches Sioux City Heelan with the most losses in the 1A field with seven but the Regals feel prepared after its challenging regular season schedule.
Nevada needed a penalty kick shootout to earn a 2-1 win over the Regals back on May 21.
“Right now we are 0-0,” Wick said. “We just throw our record away and we are going to go out and play our best every game.”