Monday, January 20, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Gabe Christianson heading to NIU

DES MOINES - Kennedy junior soccer player Gabe Christianson said he will graduate two trimesters early and enroll in college, meaning his high school soccer career ended after the Cougars' 5-1 loss to West Des Moines Valley on Thursday in the first round of the boys state tournament.

“I will be going to Northern Illinois University,” Christianson said. “I am really excited about it.”

Christianson was second on the team with 15 goals and led the team with 26 assists in his only season in the Kennedy green and gold.

Christianson is planning on studying business at Northern Illinois and he said that the academics at Northern Illinois played a big role in his decision.

“I felt it was a great fit, both soccer-wise and academically,” he said. “They have a great business program, I would love to go into the business school. It just feels like home.”

Gabe’s older brother, senior Garet Christianson, has signed to play at Eastern Illinois.

“It should be pretty fun,” Gabe said. “We will be playing each other and get a little brotherly rivalry going."


Practice makes perfect for Saints

DES MOINES - The Xavier boys soccer team used a little bit of creativity to overcome Clear Creek Amana, 2-0, in its first round matchup at the state tournament at the Cownie Soccer Complex on Thursday.

With a 1-0 lead early in the second half, the Saints (15-2-1) got a free kick from just outside of the box after a penalty on the Clippers (11-5). They decided to go with a set piece that they had developed at practice during the week.

The play, engineered by junior Chad Gilmer and senior Tim Bouchard, had Bouchard fake a kick and run past the ball and around the Clippers’ wall. Gilmer then ran up on it and tapped the ball over to Bouchard who received behind the defense and beat the keeper going to the opposite post.

“We worked on it all week,” Xavier Coach Amir Hadzic said. “At first the players suggested it, and I thought at first it might be naive a little bit, but after we worked it a couple times we perfected it. There is nothing better than when you work something in practice and it actually goes the way it is supposed to.”

That goal gave the Saints a 2-0 lead and all but put the game out of reach. The suffocating Xavier defense kept the Clippers from mounting any serious scoring threats.

The top-seeded Saints are the defending state champions. They played a tough Clear Creek Amana squad that had not been to the state tournament before, but the game looked fairly even through the opening few minutes.


Freese struggles as J-Hawks top Warriors, 9-6

Scouts for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies had planned to watch Dakota Freese pitch for Cedar Rapids Washington Thursday night, but a rainy day kept them away from the ballpark.

Freese owes Mother Nature a hug for chasing the scouts away prior to next week's draft, because they probably would not have been impressed by what transpired.

Freese returned from a seven-game suspension and had a rough outing as the Warriors lost to Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 9-6, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Washington.

Freese walked seven batters, uncorked three wild pitches and hit a batter in six innings. He took the loss in his first appearance for the Warriors this season.

"Not good," he said. "I couldn't control a thing."

Freese, a lanky righthander, normally has good control with a low-90's fastball and a sharp curve, but he struggled to find the strike zone against the J-Hawks.

Freese had a miserable time in the sixth inning when the J-Hawks scored five runs on three hits, two walks, three wild pitches, a passed ball, three stolen bases, two bunts and an error. He threw 32 pitches in the sixth, raising his pitch count to 104 (unofficially) and ending his night on the mound.


Valley flattens Kennedy at state

DES MOINES - The Kennedy boys soccer team ran into a buzzsaw Thursday at the state tournament in No. 1 seeded West Des Moines Valley. The Tigers ran away with a 5-1 victory in the first round of the state tournament at the Cownie Soccer Complex.

“Defensively, we just didn’t mark people,” said co-coach Steve Robertson. “It was a problem when we went and played them the first time (2-1 loss in April), we had some issues with that, but after that point it looked like we had worked that out. It came back today. We let guys run free and when you let a good team like that run free they are going to score goals.”

The Cougars' defense allowed a couple of early goals to the Tigers and after they got put into that early hole, Valley was able to push the advantage and expand the lead as Kennedy was pushing to climb back into it.

“If you get down by a couple goals in the first 15 minutes, you are chasing the game the whole time,” Robertson said. “When you are chasing the game, you have to take risks and do things that you wouldn’t normally do, and when you do that, you open yourself up defensively for more goals.”


J-Hawks top Wahawks on goal by Owen

Jenna Owen did not start Wednesday's soccer game for Jefferson High School, but she finished it in style.

Owen scored with 7 minutes, 42 seconds left in regulation to snap an 0-0 tie and give the J-Hawks a 1-0 victory over Waterloo West in the regional semifinals at Kingston Stadium.

Jefferson will face Kennedy in the regional finals Monday at 5 p.m. for a berth in the Class 3A state tournament.

Owen normally starts for the J-Hawks (8-10), but she did not crack the opening lineup Wednesday. Coach Ash Brannan used her as a substitute, and she had just re-entered the game as a midfielder when the crucial play occurred.

Katie Dierks had a throw-in for Jefferson from the far side, and the ball came to Owen in front of the goal.

"I had just come in like two seconds before that," Owen said. "I took a shot. I was kind of shocked it went in, actually. I tried to go over her, because there were a bunch of people in front of me."

Owen lofted the ball over Waterloo West goal-keeper Alex Kastli and gently into the net, ending a scoreless battle. Jefferson dominated the game, but missed several opportunities and needed 72 minutes and 18 seconds to finally score.


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