Top-ranked GC/G-R loses two-goal lead in regulation, recovers to reach 1A title game

T-R PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER - Des Moines Christian goalkeeper Tate Platte, far left, walks off the field after Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck won their Class 1A state semifinal soccer match in a shootout Thursday at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines. Platte scored the Lions’ tying goal in the waning moments of regulation.

DES MOINES — Max Anderson had a great supporting cast on the soccer pitch this spring.

Thursday afternoon was the time to have the spotlight for himself.

The Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck goalkeeper made two clutch saves in the Rebels’ penalty kick shootout with Des Moines Christian, and GC/G-R’s shooters handled the rest in a 3-2 triumph over the Lions in a Class 1A boys soccer state semifinal at the Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.

“I have played my heart out for three years for this team and to come this far with them, I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” said Anderson, a junior.

GC/G-R won the shootout, 4-2 — the teams were tied at 2-2 following two overtimes. The No. 1 Rebels (20-0) will face No. 2 Western Christian (14-2) at 10 a.m. on Saturday back in Des Moines to crown a 1A champion. The Wolfpack also claimed a shootout win over Iowa City Regina in Thursday’s semifinal.

“We’re gonna take this next day to recoup, watch film, and do our best moving on to this next game,” Anderson said.

Anderson entered the tournament tied for the 1A lead with only seven goals allowed, but even head coach Jon Dinsdale admits that a disciplined defense in front of Anderson kept the keeper from needing to pull out all the stops.

They needed him today, though, and he delivered, allowing the first tally to Samuel Overholt but stopping attempts from Maxximus Miller and Grant Dunn to put the Rebels on the doorstep of victory.

“There were a few players that were eyeing which way they would go,” Anderson said. “I took advantage of that and just did my best to stop them.”

Joseph Clement beat Anderson for DMC’s second tally of the shootout, but all GC/G-R’s Aiden Hunemuller had to do was put away his shot to end it early.

“I was praying to God he’d put it in,” Anderson said. “Who knows what would’ve happened after that?”

Anderson didn’t have to find out — Hunemuller shuffled a boot into the bottom right corner of the net, turned, and laid down, arms open, to accept the mob of teammates that piled onto him.

“It’s the same motion, every time,” Hunemuller said of his game-winner. “I always put it in the bottom corner. I knew I had to make it, but I couldn’t thank Max enough for putting me in that situation.”

The first 40 minutes looked good for GC/G-R. In a repeat of Tuesday’s quarterfinal with Columbus, the Rebels scored within the first minute on an Isaac Clark touch on an assist from Tyler Nolder. Twenty minutes later, Nolder sent in a free kick that Aiden Betts crashed down upon to flush in for a 2-0 Rebel lead at halftime.

The Lions roared back in the second half, putting pressure on GC/G-R even as Anderson and the Rebels defense held tall.

The turning point came when Austin Betts went down with 12 minutes left in regulation with severe leg cramps and did not return.

Austin was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age five, which he said makes the cramps common with these warm, muggy late spring days “10 times worse.”

Having to watch from the sideline instead of contributing as the Rebels’ big boot in the defense, the Rebels allowed a Lions goal to Overholt two minutes later, slicing GC/G-R’s lead in half.

It seemed as though GC/G-R would still hold on, until the Lions brought Tate Platte out of net for an 11th attacker to hammer away at the weary Rebel defense.

Anderson and the Rebels made some crucial plays in that stretch, but it was Anderson’s goalie counterpart who extended the Lions’ season, smacking a lofty, high-arcing kick that Anderson had no chance to make a play on, tying the game with 1:05 remaining.

The finish to regulation and the play through the first overtime highlighted a flaw in the Rebel gameplan, a switch in formation that had GC/G-R playing conservatively with their two-goal lead.

“We were more defensive-minded in those 20 minutes, and that gave [Des Moines Christian] the momentum they needed,” Dinsdale said. “We went back to the old formation that got us up two to zero and did really well in that second overtime.”

In the second overtime period, Isaac Clark nearly ended it with a couple of point-blank shots that he couldn’t get past Platte. Aiden Betts missed just right on a run at the net moments later.

The Rebels were unable to end the game in that overtime period, but it provided a glimpse into what they could do with the ball at their feet in the shootout.

“It gave us so much confidence knowing that we could get those shots on them, putting pressure on their defense and making them freak out back there,” Hunemuller said.

When it was time to make some shots in the shootout, the Rebels simply didn’t miss, a perfect 4-for-4 on scores from Dylan Knaack, Aiden Betts, Tyler Nolder and Hunemuller.

Austin Betts would’ve shot second in the shootout lineup – the first of the three senior captains, followed by Nolder and Hunemuller – before going out with his injury.

Instead, his younger brother Aiden stepped up to score for the Rebels.

“A freshman,” Dinsdale said with incredulity. “Stepped in today and just put a beautiful one in the corner. That’s what these boys have been raised to do for Grundy County. They never quit. And I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Austin, who also contributed on the Grundy Center state championship football team, says hydrating early and often is the key to being able to contribute on the field and not let his condition control his passions.

“Tuesday’s game, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning just to start hydrating,” Austin said. “Anything for this team though, man. I love these boys. I’m willing to do whatever it means to play on Saturday. If it means getting up at 3:30 in the morning, I’m gonna do it.”

Both the Rebels and Wolfpack are making their fourth tournament appearance in school history this year, and both are looking to come away with their first state title. Western Christian is a two-time runner-up after losses to Burlington Notre Dame/West Burlington and Assumption in 2021 and 2022.

“Just to have these guys experience this is the thrill of it all,” Dinsdale said. “We’re gonna hit the ice baths, all of us – probably including me. We’ve just got to regroup. We’ll go back to Grundy Center and Reinbeck, then be back on the bus tomorrow afternoon and hit the hotel.”

This is also the first state championship game appearance for GC/G-R, following a fourth-place finish in 2009 and back-to-back third-place runs in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s just unbelievable,” said Austin Betts. “We were 4-9 as sophomores, and now we’re 20-0 and playing in the championship game. It just doesn’t happen. But our boys worked so hard for this, everybody deserves it and I can’t wait to play in it.”

Iowa High School Boys State Soccer Tournament

At Cownie Soccer Complex, Des Moines



Tuesday, May 30

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck 4, Waterloo Columbus 0

Des Moines Christian 4, West Branch 0

Iowa City Regina 2, West Liberty 1

Western Christian 1, Treynor 0


Thursday, June 1

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck 3, Des Moines Christian 2 (4-2 PKs)

Western Christian 2, Iowa City Regina 1 (PKs)


Saturday, June 3

No. 1 Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck (20-0) vs. No. 2 Western Christian (14-2), 10 a.m.



Tuesday, May 30

Davenport Assumption 2, Perry 0

Nevada 1, Webster City 0

Gilbert 5, Greene County 0

Sioux City Heelan 5, Center Point-Urbana 0


Thursday, June 1

Davenport Assumption 3, Nevada 2

Gilbert 2, Sioux City Heelan 1


Saturday, June 3

No. 1 Davenport Assumption (17-1) vs. No. 3 Gilbert (20-2), 1 p.m.



Tuesday, May 30

Des Moines Hoover 6, Cedar Rapids Xavier 0

Norwalk 3, Humboldt 2

Iowa City Liberty 4, Dallas Center-Grimes 2

Marion 3, Denison-Schleswig 1


Thursday, June 1

Norwalk 1, Des Moines Hoover 0

Iowa City Liberty 2, Marion 0


Saturday, June 3

No. 5 Norwalk (13-7) vs. No. 6 Iowa City Liberty (11-8), 4 p.m.



Wednesday, May 31

Ankeny Centennial 2, WDM Valley 0

Johnston 3, Cedar Rapids Prairie 0

Iowa City West 2, Cedar Rapids Kennedy 0

Dowling Catholic 2, Ames 1


Thursday, June 1

Johnston 3, Ankeny Centennial 1

Iowa City West 3, Dowling Catholic 0


Saturday, June 3

No. 4 Johnston (17-3) vs. No. 3 Iowa City West (17-2), 7 p.m.


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