Saturday, July 22, 2017
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Saints lose thriller in state finals

DES MOINES - Less than eight minutes stood between top-seeded Xavier  and a 1-0 victory over the defending Class 2A state champions, but a collision in front of its own goal that involved keeper Owen McCarron would help change those fortunes and lead to a third title in four  years for Norwalk.

The Warriors took advantage of a fallen McCarron to even the score at  1-1 when Kason Crall booted a rebounded ball into an empty net. McCarron couldn’t recover quickly enough as Crall found an open net and didn’t miss from the left wing.

With the score knotted at one, both sides continued fighting for an  elusive title for another 27 minutes, including a pair of overtimes, before Norwalk triumphed 4-1 in a shootout. Krall, Nick Eltjes, Chase Sinclair and Jack Palen notched penalty kick goals, while the Saints were 1-for-3 in the extra session with only Nick Koechner finding the back of the net.

“I knew it would be a hard, close game, and unfortunately for us it ended up this way,” said Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic. “It’s really hard to lose in penalty kicks, especially when we spent so much energy in a game. It’s like finishing a basketball game shooting free throws.”

The late second-half sequence was also tough to stomach for Hadzic’s  senior-laden roster that included veteran forward Luke Duball. The veteran forward’s thoughts echoed those on the Xavier sideline, which felt McCarron was fouled on the game-tying goal.


Saints top Iowa Falls, eye 8th state title

DES MOINES - The Xavier Saints will be seeking their eighth state  title in school history Saturday afternoon when they face Norwalk in  the championship game of the Class 2A boys state soccer tournament in  Des Moines.

Xavier (14-4) is the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Norwalk (17-4) is  the No. 2 seed and the defending state champions. The championship  match is scheduled for 2:30.

The Saints clipped Iowa Falls/Alden, 4-2, in the semifinals Friday.

Luke Duball and Will Hanigan gave Xavier an early 2-0 lead, but Iowa  Falls superstar Marcos Villa scored twice to pull his team into a 2-2  deadlock at intermission.

All the scoring in the first half came in the first 10 minutes.


Saints facing Spanish star at state soccer

DES MOINES – The Xavier Saints will be facing an incredibly talented soccer player from Spain on Friday when they meet Iowa Falls-Alden in the semifinals of the Class 2A state tournament in Des Moines.

Marcos Villa has scored 56 goals for Iowa Falls-Alden in 20 games this season and tied a national record when he scored a hat trick in nine straight games.

Iowa Falls-Alden features another scoring machine with Logan Steelman, who's produced 32 goals for the Cadets this year.

Xavier topped the Marion Indians, 5-1, in the opening round of the state tournament at the Cownie Soccer Complex Thursday afternoon. Thomas Bean and Will Hanigan scored for the Saints in the first half to give them a 2-1 lead at intermission, then Shane Scott, Luke Duball and Brian Lang produced goals in the second half.

Jaffer Murphy scored a goal for Marion, which was making its first trip to the state tournament in school history and finished with an 11-5 record.


Himmelsbach breaks loose as Saints split

Cassie Himmelsbach has been a capable hitter for the Xavier Saints during her career, but she had some pretty ugly stats this season heading into Thursday night's doubleheader against Dubuque Hempstead.

"They were really rough," she acknowledged.

That changed Thursday when the nomadic Saints were finally able to play some true home games at Bob Erusha Field, which has been plagued by drainage issues this year.

Himmelsbach swatted a pair of solo home runs in the first game as the Saints trimmed Hempstead, 3-2. The visitors captured the nightcap, 10-7.

Himmelsbach, a senior third baseman, was hitting .176 with no homers and no RBIs through Xavier's first seven games of the campaign.

"I had a lot of bad at-bats," she said. "I just couldn't hit anything. It was awful."

Pitch selection was the culprit. She'd been swinging at too many bad pitches and that had to end.


Xavier boys net 1A state title

WEST DES MOINES - The Xavier Saints captured the first boys state tennis title in school history Tuesday with an impressive performance at the Class 1A championships in West Des Moines.

The Saints whipped Pella, 5-2, in the semifinals and blanked LeMars, 5-0, in the championship round.

Jon Lansing, Alex Hinrichs and Charlie Esker won both of their singles matches for Xavier. Blake Magill won his singles match in the semifinals against Pella, while Calvin Ford and Ryan Jasper took their singles matches in the finals against LeMars.

Lansing and Esker, who won the Class 1A state doubles title in Waterloo on Saturday, won their doubles match in the semifinals  against Pella for the fifth and deciding point in that meet.


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