The Sioux Center boys soccer team is only in its fifth year in existence, and already the Warriors have a third-place Class 1A trophy.
On Tuesday, the Warriors defeated West Liberty 2-1 in double overtime in the Class 1A state tournament third-place match. Not only did Sioux Center have to come back from a 1-0 deficit in the second half, but the Warriors had to do it with only 10 players because one of the Warriors was given a red card in the match.
"The way it all happened, I am happy with it and happy to send the seniors out with a win. We've got guts. It definitely wasn't easy," Sioux Center coach Dan Van Ruler said. "It's a huge deal. We thought we belonged with the best. Without a doubt, we are one of the top teams in the state and I think that's gone unrecognized for the last two years but hopefully now not anymore."
West Liberty took a 1-0 lead just 1:21 in the game. Sioux Center was held scoreless in the first half but Van Ruler felt his team wore down West Liberty in the first half. He was confident his team could score the equalizer.
"We came out flat-footed without a doubt. Their coach was working them hard in pregame. We are too deep to do that. I don't know if they expected us to possess it as much as we did," Van Ruler said. "Second half, they only had one guy up because they had to get everyone behind the ball because they were tired."
Early in the second half, Sioux Center lost its player to a red card and played 10 vs. 11 the rest of the way. But even down a man, the Warriors tied the match on a goal by Romario Lopez Santos in the 62nd minute.
"We just stepped it up and controlled the ball the entire second half with 10 guys. We played without a left-side midfielder and our left back pushed up," Van Ruler said. "They were really wearing down in the first half, we knew in the second half if we did what we needed to do and played our game, we would wear them down."
After taking 10 shots in the first half, Sioux Center attempted 23 in the second half. West Liberty had limited chances on offense after its goal in the first half.
"It was about closing space and not letting them turn," Van Ruler said. "There were times where the guys had to stay in front and they did. They weren't going to let anything through."
The Warriors weren't able to add the game-winner before the end of regulation, or even in the first overtime. In the second overtime, Jesus Granillo took a free kick from about 20 yards out. The ball found the top corner of the net for the game-winner, 2-1.
It was Granillo's 13th goal of the season.
The third-place finish gives the Warriors a 15-5 record to end the season. It is the second time the Warriors have been to state, after losing in the first round in their first trip.
Van Ruler said the program will look to build off the third-place finish.
"We are going to have to rebuild our defense next year but we've got a bunch of midfielders and forwards back and we will be dangerous again," Van Ruler said. "Get some guys in the weight room and get stuff sorted out. We have a lot of good teams in Northwest Iowa, so it takes a lot of hard work. We are going to do everything we can to get back."