Iowa High School Boys’ Soccer 2022: 5 Questions, Area Players & Teams to Watch

Linn-Mar’s Gabe Chapa plays the ball while Xavier’s Ryan Hoefer defends during a Jamboree game at Kingston Stadium on Monday, March 28, 2022 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Iowa High School Soccer returns this week, and this year we only had to wait about 10 months.

Here are five questions and some Gazette-region players and teams to watch as we enter the 2022 season.

What’s next for Cedar Rapids Xavier?

After winning his fifth state title in his 13th state tournament as Cedar Rapids Xavier head coach, Amir Hadzic resigned in the offseason for two hip surgeries.

He is replaced by Sho Takaoka, an assistant coach for the past three seasons who has played for and trained with Hadzic at Mount Mercy. Expect the Saints to be Class 2A contenders again.

“I know that physically I will not be there every day, but I will always keep my Xavier family in my heart,” Hadzic said in a press release.

Will the latest programs more than hold their own?

The days when new football programs automatically competed against established schools could be over. Of course, failures remain, but the depth of talent is increasing.

In his sophomore varsity season, North Fayette Valley (14-5) defeated second-place finisher Dyersville Beckman to get into the standing last season. Cascade (7-5) ended his freshman season with a winning record, and Clayton Ridge (5-6) almost did it.

This year we welcome Sigourney-Keota to the pitch. The Cobras’ first game is Tuesday at Monroe PCM.

Any notable class changes?

By doing IHSSA Provisional Listing, Solon is a class 2A program. Last year’s team was ranked No. 4 in Class 1A but lost to No. 3 Iowa City Regina in the Substate Finals.

Vinton-Shellsburg is listed in Class 1A after a 15-1 season in which they rose to No. 2 in the Class 2A rankings before suffering their only loss to Waverly-Shell Rock in the Substate Finals. The Vikings must replace eight high-ranking starters who helped make the fledgling program a winner.

How will the new state tournament format work?

The boys’ national soccer tournament is still a three-game-in-four-day grind for the finalists, but it’s not three games in three days, and that’s an improvement.

The girls’ and boys’ tournaments are held the same week at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines, with the boys playing on June 1 (Quarterfinals), June 3 (Semifinals) and June 4 (Finals). Fresher legs at the end of the week should make for games more like the season.

What games are there in April?

Here are a few in the area that have my attention.

Cedar Rapids Prairie in Iowa City West, April 5 — Two of MVC’s best meet early in the season. Last year’s game went into overtime and was the Trojans’ only loss before the state finals.

Marion at Cedar Rapids Xavier April 9th – A repeat of last year’s state quarterfinals, which the Saints won 1-0. Both teams can resume this position in June.

Iowa City High in Linn-Mar, April 26 – Two MVC teams that didn’t come forward last year but are routinely threatened with doing so.

Iowa City Regina in West Liberty, April 28 – The River Valley Conference does not sponsor football and these two members did not play last year when both were Class 1A semifinalists.

area to watch players

Dillon Bruck, Sr., Solon – The second All-State pick team scored 20 goals and finished second in a team that was ranked 4th in the final Class 1A rankings. First Team All-Wamac East.

Logan Burchard Sr., Dyersville Beckman — Led a team that was ranked 2nd in Class 1A with 15 goals. Also had six assists. First Team All-Wamac East.

Gabe Chapa, Sr., Linn-Mar – Western Illinois Commitment led the Lions with nine goals last season. First-Team All-MVC Mississippi.

Andre Fuentes, soph., North Fayette Valley – Led a program that reached the Class 1A state tournament in his sophomore varsity season with 22 assists while also scoring 16 goals as a freshman. Second team all-state selection.

Jahsiah Galvan, Sr., West Liberty — First Team All State. Sixth in state (all classes) with 37 goals and 11th with 18 assists for a Class 1A state semifinalist. Northern Iowa Football Commitment was also a second-team All-State defensive back.

Blake Halleran Sr., Cedar Rapids Prairie — First Team All-State and First Team All-MVC Mississippi midfielder. Scored six goals last season. Active at Wartburg College.

Carson Jeffery, Sr., Cedar Rapids Xavier — All-state first-team goaltender for last season’s Class 2A state champion. Has not conceded a goal in any of the team’s three tournament wins. He made 58 saves and conceded 13 goals against a 3A-heavy schedule.

Gavin Lewis, soph., Cedar Rapids Prairie – Led an eight-goal qualifier for a Class 3A state tournament as a freshman. Honorable Mention All-State. Second Team All-MVC Mississippi.

Joxyn Logan, Sr., Iowa City Liberty — The first-team All-MVC Mississippi goaltender made 110 saves and stopped 76.4 percent of shots on goal.

Juan Mateo, Jr., West Liberty – The second-team All-State forward ranked eighth in the state (all classes) with 34 goals for a Class 1A semifinalist. Also had 15 assists.

Kayden McMaster, Sr., Cedar Rapids Prairie – First Team All-State and First Team All-MVC Mississippi defenders for a team that produced nine shutouts.

Peyton Miller, Sr., West Branch — The all-state first-team forward ranked second in the state (all classes) with 40 goals.

Mitchell Naber, Sr., Dyersville Beckman — A total of 11 goals and eight assists for a team that finished second in Tier 1A. First Team All-Wamac East.

Michael Nelson, Jr., Iowa City West – The first-team All-MVC Valley midfielder played a key role as a sophomore for the Class 3A runners-up team. He scored 14 goals and had five assists.

Aidan Neumann, soph., Cedar Rapids Prairie — Started all season as a freshman in goal, making 60 saves while allowing just 13 goals for a second-ranked team in Class 3A. Honorable Mention All-State.

Jackson Pennington, Sr., Mid-Prairie – The All-State honorable mention midfielder scored 14 goals and added six assists for an 11-5 team ranked 15th in Class 1A. Engaged in basketball at Cornell College.

Hayden Saul Jr., Iowa City Liberty – Led a 9-8 team with eight goals from a defensive/midfield role, including a game-defining header in the dying seconds against 8th-ranked Iowa City High. First-Team All-MVC Mississippi.

Trysten Vasquez, Sr., Cedar Rapids Xavier – First All-State Team and First All-MVC Valley defensive back for a team that has not conceded a goal in three state tournament wins. Also an All-State first-team kicker in football. Committed to playing football at Central College.

Area teams to see

Cedar Rapids Prairies – Two All-State selections and two more honorable mentions are back from a team that finished 2nd in Class 3A and made the state tournament for the fourth time in six seasons.

Cedar Rapids Xavier – Last year’s Class 2A state champion loses seven high-ranked starters but has two All-State picks back as he looks to extend a 12-season state tournament series.

Dyersville Beckman — Beckman was stopped short of state last year and loses just three high-ranked starters by finishing a team that finished 2nd in Class 1A.

Iowa City High – Three first-team All-Conference picks in Aaron Rutherford, Matthew Brown and Ben Horwitz are returning from a Substate finalist who finished 8th in Class 3A and lost to eventual state champion Pleasant Valley by a late goal.

Iowa City Freedom — Last year’s team went 9-8 and showed a lot of promise, especially towards the end of the season with just one older starter.

Iowa City Regina – A state tournament series was extended to 13 seasons last year with just two seniors on the starting lineup. 65 percent of the team’s goals come from within, but players like second-division side Kaleab Wendy (16 goals, 10 assists) can continue to produce.

Iowa City West – Seven top-ranked starters alternate with a Class 3A runner-up team, but this program ties West Des Moines Valley with a record 21 state tournament appearances.

Marion – The top two scorers are gone, but nearly everyone else has returned from a state tournament team that has won nine straight games after a 3-6 start, including first-team All-Wamac East players Jordan Fischer and Austin Kochan

Solon – A team that finished 4th in Class 1A and put Iowa City Regina on penalties in the Substate Finals has all but two starters returned.

western freedom – Two All-State forwards are back to lead a program that has made Class 1A semifinals for the past two seasons.

Comments: nathan.ford@thegazette.com

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