’Cats push Prairie to the edge

Top-ranked Hawks survive stern challenge from Marshalltown, 2-1, in substate semis

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • Jose Torres (13) converts a penalty kick in the first half, tying the score 1-1 just before halftime during Wednesday night’s Class 3A Substate 4 semifinal in Cedar Rapids. Torres had the Bobcats’ lone goal, as they fell 2-1 to top-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie.

CEDAR RAPIDS — A highly competitive game that nearly saw a colossal collapse of the Class 3A No. 1 team in Cedar Rapids Prairie ended with an awfully bitter taste Wednesday night in the Substate 4 semifinal.

As the final seconds ticked away in a 2-1 favor of No. 1 Prairie (18-0), a scuffle turned into a scrum, turned into a screaming match between the Marshalltown and Prairie teams. As players converged on midfield, Prairie head coach Curt Lewis yelled “classy” in a mocking tone while clapping his hands toward MHS head coach Chris Fuchsen.

As Fuchsen tried to control players from the MHS bench and calm Lewis down, while getting to his player, a scrum pile fully broke out sending both coaches and benches to midfield.

“The officials said there was fighting,” Fuchsen said. “I was busy trying to control guys on the bench and keep their coaching staff from antagonizing my group of guys.”

Fuchsen’s efforts failed as Lewis made his way into the pile, separating his players from the Bobcats, who end their season with their fifth one-goal loss. Lewis continued with “classless” chants, which old made the extracurriculars worse and fired up already-heated players.

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • A fight breaks out at midfield after Wednesday night’s Class 3A Substate 4 boys soccer semifinal. Two Bobcat players were issued red cards for the scrum, and one was awarded to MHS head coach Chris Fuchsen after the match. Marshalltown lost 2-1.

“I don’t know, but I think Julio [Gonzalez] and maybe Alex [Angel] but I’m not sure [who got red cards],” Fuchsen said. “Evidently, [the head official] showed me the red card for asking why. I didn’t use any profanity and wasn’t being disrespectful at all. I was just trying to get an explanation of the red cards so I can make a report. And he decided to throw a red at me.”

No red cards were given to the Prairie coaching staff or players after the game. Fuchsen went over to Lewis after the game and the two shook hands, attempting to resolve the issue before the Marshalltown bus left for home.

The unfortunate conclusion to Wednesday night’s contest was preluded by a standout match. The Prairie Hawks’ offense was unrelenting while the Bobcats’ defense proved to be as stout as could be.

Prairie’s offense recorded 24-to-5 shots and 13-to-2 shots on goal against the Bobcats. Time and time again, in the first half, the Prairie Hawks got the looks they wanted, but Bobcat defenders and Marshalltown goalkeeper Ricky Ibarra shut the door.

The first goal didn’t come until the 32nd minute, when Caleb Halleran connected on a set piece from Mateaus Lewis and snuck one by Ibarra.

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • Cedar Rapids Prairie head coach Curt Lewis, second from left, yells toward the Marshalltown bench after a fight broke out at the conclusion of Wednesday’s Class 3A Substate 4 semifinal. Lewis was heard yelling “classy” in a sarcastic tone, as well as “classless.” Three red cards were given to Marshalltown’s team, while none were given to the Cedar Rapids Prairie coaches, players or bench.

“They’re well-disciplined and athletic,” Fuchsen said. “They’re physical and they were able to go 80 minutes without a lapse in energy and focus. Hats off to them and the coaching staff for putting together the season they have. By all means, they deserve to win it, but at the same time, I’m proud of my boys. They battled and persevered and came back one goal down. Unfortunately, we didn’t have what it takes to overcome a quality team like Prairie.”

Prairie goalkeeper Chase Harrison had to make a judgement call in the 37th minute, which resulted in a penalty kick for freshman Jose Torres.

From about six yards out, Torres was able to maneuver around a defender and had Harrison out of position. It was either go one-on-one with Torres, or make an effort to knock the ball away. Torres was able to draw the penalty kick, which he converted to tie the game 1-1 before halftime.

For the next 10 minutes, the Bobcats battled keep the ball in the offensive half, but only got two shots — one on goal — in the second half, and spent 30-plus minutes on the defensive front.

With just more than five minutes to play, Matt Walter slammed in a cross off a free kick from Boston Riley to go ahead 2-1.

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • Marshalltown’s Tony Angel, right, works to maneuver around Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Jayce Smith (13) in the first half of Wednesday night’s Class 3A Substate 4 match. Prairie won 2-1.

From there, Prairie played keep away, throwing the ball in off MHS players, which encouraged the eventual extracurriculars at the final buzzer.

“It was a well-fought battle, and that’s what you want in a game of this magnitude,” Fuchsen said. “We put ourselves in a chance to play and win, and ultimately we had a lax in concentration and they nipped one in, and deservingly so, they go on.”

The head official declined to comment after the game, stating the Iowa High School Athletic Association would have a report Thursday morning.

Prairie athletic director Rocky Bennett, who was with the head official in the parking lot about 15 minutes after the game, said, “It’s best you just let this one go,” when the Times-Republican identified itself to the two individuals. “No comment from us,” Bennett added.

The Times-Republican will be contacting the IHSAA offices Thursday morning for explanation on official red cards and if there are further consequences for both the Bobcats and Prairie Hawks.

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD

Prairie will play No. 15 Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Saturday for a trip to state on the line, at Prairie High School. Kennedy beat Cedar Rapids Jefferson 2-1 on Wednesday night in their semifinal pairing.

Cedar Rapids Prairie 2, Marshalltown 1

At Cedar Rapids

First Half

CRP — Caleb Halleran (Mateaus Lewis), 32:10

MHS — Jose Torres, 37:00

Second Half

CRP — Matt Walter (Boston Riley), 74:47

Goalkeepers — MHS: Ricky Ibarra (13 shots on goal, 11 saves); CRP: Chase Harrison (2-1).

Shots — MHS 5, CRP 24

Shots on goal — MHS 2, CRP 13

Corner kicks — MHS 1, CRP 6

Red Cards — Julio Gonzalez, Alex Angel, MHS coach Chris Fuchsen.