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Rebel revival GC/GR takes third again after defeating Regina

June 12, 2016

DES MOINES - Erik Knaack will probably eat free for the rest of the summer.

The Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior took a cross from Walker Thede and headed in the lone goal of the third-place match with Iowa City Regina, leading the Rebels (18-3) to a 1-0 victory Saturday at the Iowa Boys' State Soccer Tournament.

It was the second-straight year the Rebels won the third-place match in Class 1A, taking a 4-3 win home with them last year against Council Bluffs St. Albert.

Article Photos

Photo by Ross Thede

With just 5:32 remaining in regulation, Knaack headed in the cross, becoming almost parallel with the 8-foot-high crossbar and landing hard on his back. However, the price was worth the blow as the go-ahead goal was enough to seal the deal for the Rebels.

"I saw Walker cross it and saw the goalie come out, and just thought this is our chance to finally get one," Knaack said. "I just jumped as high as I could, and Mohlis was right behind me, and luckily I was able to put it in."

It was the second time the Rebels saw second-ranked Regina (15-8) this season after defeating it 2-1 in Reinbeck in mid-April. The rematch pitted two very different styles of play together in the consolation match.

While the No. 3 Rebels were more of a long ball, kick it down the field type of offense, the Regals were more methodical, accurately and precisely passing the ball up the field, taking shot after shot. Seeing a team like Regina - as well as most teams which play Regina's kind of offense - forced the Rebels to do a lot of running and a lot of chasing.

"We have to chase because they obviously pass a ton," Knaack said. "We just have to be in great condition because most teams are finesse teams and we're used to that."

The match was nearly a push in terms of statistics and while looking at the holistic picture, a 1-0 result seemed fitting.

Regina led in most categories, including shots (17-9), shots on goal (10-7) and fouls (8-5). Maybe the category that helped rescue the Rebels the most was saves.

Senior Josh Cooley was in the back of the goal for the final time in the blue and while Saturday. He tallied nine saves off 10 shots on goal, with one shot railing off the crossbar over his head. Regina goalie Isaac Vollstedt had five saves with seven shots on goal, while one hit the crossbar on the other end as well, and Knaack's lone goal.

Cooley came into Saturday's game battered and bruised in every sense of the words. The senior goal suffered a dislocated hip Friday in the Rebels' 2-1 loss to eventual Class 1A runner-up Kuemper Catholic. Cooley finished the game Friday, only to come back Saturday, nab nine saves and sprain his ankle in the waning minutes.

He said he was riding the winning high, blocking out whatever pain might come later once back on the road home with a third-place trophy.

"Yeah, I was hurting a little bit yesterday, but that's no excuse," Cooley said. "Today, I knew I had to come out in my last game and play strong. I did it for my team; I did it for Kirk [Dinsdale]. We persevered, and I just did my job. Plain and simple."

Knaack said getting the final win of the season again this year was truly special, not only for him, but for the five seniors on the team.

"I just wanted to get it done for the seniors; I just wanted to get it done for the team," Knaack said. "Last year, obviously it was awesome going out with the win and I just wanted to have that feeling again."

One of those seniors, Colton Dinsdale, said the conclusion to his senior year campaign wrapped up in flawless fashion with the second win against the Regals on Saturday.

"It feels perfect," Dinsdale said. "Third place is awesome, fourth place is worse, but I would've taken any place. Just being down here is fun. We're happy to be down here and getting past that first game to stay down here for a couple of more nights."

It was the final go for head coach Kirk Dinsdale on Saturday, who announced he was retiring with the conclusion of the 2016 season. He said he made the decision earlier this year, and didn't say anything because he didn't want emotion having any influence on the outcome of the season.

"What a game. There were two pretty matched teams today," Kirk said. "They're one of the best coached teams in the state, and I'm proud as hell to come out on top and beat them two times in the same year. A great accomplishment in my opinion."



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