A clutch goal from Zachary Cuva with 7:45 left in the second half of the Class 4A Regional 3 final sent the Ames boys soccer team to the state tournament for the first time in six years
The Little Cyclones defeated Des Moines East by a 2-1 score Wednesday at the Ames High football field. The victory sent Ames to the state tournament for the first time since 2017.
“It’s been way too long,” Ames coach Ryan McGowan said. “We haven’t made it since I was an assistant coach. This senior class, their very first varsity game was against Waukee and we got beat 10-0, which was my first-ever game (as head coach). These seniors stayed the course and kept pushing. Now they are going to finish their careers at the state tournament.”
Cuva broke a 1-1 tie when he broke up the middle of the field, got a nice ball from Ethan Sigurdsson and managed to slip it by East keeper Kevin Perez for the eventual winning score.
“I can barely remember it,” Cuva said. “Just that after that I felt like I had all the energy in the world. It felt great.”
More: How Ames’ Zachary Cuva has become one of the best offensive boys soccer players in 4A
Ames had defeated East by a 3-0 score May 10 in Ames to snap a 12-game Scarlet winning streak. But the Little Cyclones knew they were in for a fight Wednesday.
East came out and possessed the ball for most of the first 15 minutes. Then Ames began to find its footing.
The Little Cyclones began controlling the ball and started getting good runs on offense over the final 20 minutes of the half.
With 3:39 left in the first half Ames broke through. A great direct kick from Christian Gault from 25 yards out found its way to Sigurdsson.
Sigurdsson punched the ball into the net for a 1-0 Little Cyclone lead.
“We needed a goal…I got a goal,” Sigurdsson said. “That’s it.”
Ames maintained that 1-0 advantage until there were just under 12 minutes left in regulation. The Little Cyclones had been in control for most of the second half, but East got a fortunate bounce when Ames keeper Ian Spry came up to make a stop in traffic and the Scarlets’ George Hernandez lofted a shot over the defense made it into an open net to tie the game.
After that the Ames defense buckled down. The Little Cyclones refused to let East stars Jose Balderas Hernandez (22 goals and 10 assists), Pierre Castro (11 goals and eight assists) and Manny Sanchez (15 assists and 8 goals) get good looks over the final eight minutes.
“A lot of teams would’ve put their heads down and say we’re going to overtime, but not us,” Spry said. “We pushed through and kept fighting as a team. I just couldn’t ask for a better team.”
East finished its season with a 15-3 record. Ames will take a 13-4 record into the state tournament next week at the Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines.
Ames enters state as the No. 7 seed in 4A. The Little Cyclones will take on second seed Dowling Catholic in the 4A quarterfinals next Tuesday on Field 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Gilbert, Nevada boys also headed to state
The Gilbert and Nevada boys soccer teams advanced to the state tournament in Class 2A.
Gilbert defeated Williamsburg in the 2A Substate 4 championship game by a 3-1 score Wednesday at Gilbert. Nevada blanked Knoxville in the 2A Substate 6 title game at Cub Stadium in Nevada.
Gilbert (18-2) will be the No. 3 seed in 2A and take on No. 6 seed Greene County at 1:20 p.m. on Field 7 at the Cownie Soccer Complex next Tuesday. Nevada (15-4) is the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 seed Webster City on Field 8 at 1:10 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Ames tops East to punch its ticket to the boys state soccer tournament