If there was any doubt as to which team would be king of the field at the SEI Superconference, the Notre Dame-West Burlington High School boys soccer team clarified those doubts over the weekend.
The fifth-placed Class 1A Nikes, the defending state champions, bested their three opponents by a combined margin of 28-0 to win the SEI Superconference Tournament championship for the fourth consecutive year. The Nikes also won in 2018, 2019 and 2021. There was no season in 2020 due to COVID.
On Saturday, the Nikes defeated Hillcrest Academy 8-0 in the quarterfinals and then clinched a 10-0 win over Mediapolis in the championship game at Notre Dame’s Tackleson Field.
Even without head coach John Wagner, who missed Saturday’s games to attend his daughter Lauryn Wagner’s graduation from the University of Northern Iowa, the Nikes didn’t skip a beat.
“Broadly speaking, it shows how we can dominate the state qualifiers and how we could do in the state tournament this year,” said ND-WB senior Gabe Zurita, who has single-handedly surpassed every other team in the tournament by a whopping 13 goals .
“We didn’t concede a single goal, which is always great,” said ND-WB midfielder Parker Davis, who scored 11 goals in three games. “No goals today – that’s very impressive. Considering this is one of the tougher teams in our understate, that’s a great look at it. But they were tired because they were just playing. But overall it was very exciting.”
“It was really good,” said ND-WB senior midfielder Carson Wagner. “We played really well. We moved the ball well, talked well. We just worked really well as a team. All the things we worked on paid off.”
ND-WB goalkeeper Arya Nowroozi kept three clean sheets, including three saves against Mediapolis.
“We expected that,” Nowroozi said. “If I had missed a goal against either team, I would have been quite disappointed. Honestly, these are the games that shape our game for Substate, so we didn’t want to let any other team hope against us. We wanted to show what we have.”
Mediapolis, who advanced to the semifinals with a 5-1 win over Columbus/Winfield-Mount Union, had to play back-to-back games in the heat with only a 20-minute break between them. The heat took its toll on the Bulldogs, who were forced to chase the Nikes and simply lost their legs.
“The first game we came out and played well,” said Mediapolis coach Jon Ludens. “It was a dogfight. It was very physical. Eighty minutes of football. Had a few tickets. Had some kids thrown around. You have 20 minutes off and then you come and play against the defending champion.”
“We knew they were going to tire, so we had to come out with intensity and see what we could do early on,” Wagner said. “It worked well. We scored a goal pretty quickly. Then we started piling them up.”
Zurita scored a corner kick from Wagner in the 10th minute to put the Nikes on the scoreboard against Mediapolis. Zurita would go on to score the next two goals and had four before halftime.
“We just moved the ball great. Parker is really good at spreading the ball and he finds feet every time,” Zurita said. “It all came together because Parker gave me a lot of opportunities. That really did the magic. I was just having fun out there .”
With the score firmly in hand, assistant coaches David Giese, Michael Carper and Aron West made sure everyone who dressed got game time for the Nikes.
Sophomore Bobby Willdrick ended the game with his first goal of the season.
“We got up early. Everyone on the other team was pretty tired. We were just trying to include everyone and score goals for a few different guys,” Davis said. “It’s more fun. It’s not always fun when it’s a close game and not everyone can play. It makes everyone happier. ”
The game could have been much worse but Mediapolis goalkeeper Randy Hine made several spectacular saves. He finished the match with 18 saves.
“He’s an animal when he wants to be,” Ludens said of Hine. “He played a great game. Even though it’s 10-0 on the scoreboard, he played a great game. He was everywhere. If he wants to be, he’s probably one of the best in the state.”
After ND-WB traveled to Monday’s game against Mount Pleasant, there will be crosstown rivals Burlington on Tuesday.
The understate begins on Thursday when the Nikes host Wapello.
The Nikes and Bulldogs could face off again at the Substate tournament.
“That’s twice now that we’ve beaten them. It kills their hopes of standing a chance against us. When we play them a third time, they will have their heads down,” Nowroozi said.
“What matters is the last of the year. We have to go there, but we hope to see them again,” said Ludens.
Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA TODAY Network in Burlington, Iowa who has been covering local sports for 31 years. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.