The Perry Bluejays boys’ soccer team marched into the State Tournament on Thursday as the No. 3 seed in 2A and took on the No. 6 seed, Winterset in the first round. Despite having troubles establishing possession against the Huskies, the Bluejays survived the first round and advanced to the Semifinals on Friday with a 1-0 win in double overtime at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
For much of the game, the Huskies (16-2) controlled possession and kept the ball on the Bluejays’ (16-4) defensive end of the field. They were able to keep the Huskies off the board, however, and look to their playmaker, Jesus Rodriguez, in the second overtime period for the game-winning goal in the 94th minute.
“I really don’t think that we had what you would call a stellar game, but I knew that if we could just get Jesus open, good things would happen, and that’s what happened,” said Perry coach Gary Overla.
Through regulation, the scoring chances were far and few in between for the Bluejays, but they did have a narrow miss in the 76th minute. A centering pass went off of the head of Rodriguez and appeared to go in for a goal, but it actually just missed, going over the bar and landing on top of the net.
After regulation is when the Bluejays started to find their stride and take over the game.
“They (Winterset) controlled the first half and the second half,” Overla said. “I think I told our kids, they were 60 percent possession in the first half, and they were probably 70 percent in the second half.”
It seemed to Overla that the Huskies couldn’t keep up with the Bluejays as the game went into extra time and Overla said he thinks the Bluejays’ conditioning came into play at the point.
For goalkeeper Anthony Aragon, he played all 80 minutes, fought off several quality scoring chances by the Huskies and earned his seventh shutout of the season. For Rodriguez, the only goal of the game was his 28th of the year.
The Bluejays will take on the No. 2 seed, Norwalk, in the Semifinals on Friday. The Warriors(16-4) defeated Storm Lake 2-0 in the Quarterfinals on Thursday.
The game will start at 2:35 on Field 6 at Cownie Soccer Complex on Friday. The winner will take on the winner of Friday’s game between Cedar Rapids Xavier and Iowa Falls-Alden-AGWSR in the Championship game on Saturday.