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Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Long-time West High coach Brad Stiles has been a part of enough matches with rival City High to know what to expect in the annual cross-town showdown.
At the top of that list is a tight match determined by a single goal.
For the 19th time in the past 21 meetings between the two schools Tuesday’s matchup was decided by a single goal.
This time it was West High that came out on top.
Tomas Sanchez scored the only goal in the 11th minute and Class 3A fourth-ranked West High (3-1) held on for a 1-0 win over third-ranked City High (3-1) at the University of Iowa Soccer Complex.
“We tried to give our guys as much ammunition as I could and I still can’t find a way to put two goals between us,” Stiles said. “Maybe that’s just the way it is.”
The win was the second in the past three seasons for West High in the series and avenged a 2-1 loss to the Little Hawks last season.
Four of the past six meetings between the two perennial 3A powers have ended 1-0. You have to go back to a 3-1 West High win in 2013 to find the last time the two teams played a match decided by more than one goal.
“You just expect a close game like this with the atmosphere, the whole city coming to watch a big game between two rivals it’s always a close game,” Sanchez said. “They are always ready and so are we.”
In the latest down-to-the-wire meeting between the rivals it was West High that seized the momentum early.
Sanchez capped a frantic opening 12 minutes of the match when he corralled pass from Roberto Machado-Guzman inside the box and slipped a low shot past City High keeper Alex Greimann.
“The biggest game of the regular season and the ball just came right to my foot from a pass from my teammate Roberto,” Sanchez said. “I just had to get my foot on it.
The teams went back-and-forth over the opening 10 minutes before Sanchez put West High up.
Acheke Mausa had an opportunity to give City High an early lead but his shot from inside 10 yards was batted away by a diving Zachary Albright.
“It’s been a long time since you looked around and both teams were sucking wind at minute 12,” Stiles said. “I almost went to the bench early but then I thought they were sucking wind as much as we were so we just let it play out.
Once West High settled down it was able to limit the offensive chances for a dangerous City High attack that entered with six goals in its three wins.
I think the biggest part was being patient and playing smart and not just going for every tackle recklessly,” West High sophomore left back Yulong Shao said. “We had to play smart.”
West High led 1-0 at halftime and kept City High at bay for most of the second half.
The Little Hawks had chances late but couldn’t solve Albright who notched his third consecutive shutout.
“Even when we did not play our best and we did not perform well we still came with only a 1-0 loss and we had some chances to put away that we need to do better on because we could have put some away,” City High coach Jose Michel Fajardo said. “It comes down to the ones you score not the ones you almost score and today there is not doubt that they deserved the win. It is a well-deserved win for them today.”
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