Spirit Lake Park-Okoboji hit the scoreboard first, and the Pella High boys soccer team was never able to regain the momentum, falling 4-1 Thursday afternoon in the Class 2A Boys State Soccer Quarterfinals in Des Moines. The Indians put their first goal in the net just over midway through the first half, and held the advantage through the intermission.
“The first goal means a lot. It’s a huge confidence-builder for any team. We react extremely strongly to that first goal – especially when it’s our own,” said Pella High head coach Mark Solomon.
“I thought we played very well – and very consistent – throughout the first half. We dominated possession, we had the majority of the opportunities, [but] we just had a very difficult time converting. A lot of our shots were wide, were high, [and] the frustration started to build into the second half as we just had a very difficult time keeping the ball close to us.”
“I credit Spirit Lake,” added Solomon, “they did a fantastic job pressuring us and winning those 50/50 balls while continuing to play great soccer.”
The Little Dutch came out with an increased level of intensity and urgency in the second half, but a defensive breakdown allowed Spirit Lake Park-Okoboji their second goal less than ten minutes into the second half, and the match began slipping away from the green-and-white. After two more scores gave the Indians a commanding lead, Pauly Apostolopoulos found the back of the net with just :24 seconds remaining to help the Little Dutch avoid the shut-out.
Though the pain of the loss was fresh in his mind, Coach Solomon was quick to keep the accomplishments of the team in perspective.
“Today, you know, this hurts, this stings a lot – not being able to continue on this great journey that we got ourselves into this year. But we accomplished the goals we set out to do,” said Solomon. “We won the Little Hawkeye Conference, we got ourselves into the State Tournament, and especially for all of our veteran players, all of our seniors – and that’s the majority of our team – it was a terrific season. I credit them for their leadership throughout the year and doing a great job.”
The Pella boys soccer team finished the season with a 17-3-1 overall record and will graduate 12 seniors from the Varsity squad, including captains Grant Barrick, Tukker Bogaard and Sam Davis.