Another year in and another trip back to the state tournament for the Class 3A top-ranked Waukee Warrior boys soccer team.
They came into the state tournament with the best record in Class 4A and the only team to step onto the grounds of the Cownie Soccer Complex without having suffered a single loss. Friday evening, they continued that trend with a 3-0 shutout victory over Cedar Rapids Kennedy. It marked the fifth straight and 16th overall shutout victory put on by the Warriors as they earned their way to the semi-final round on Saturday, June 1.
Waukee freshman CJ Coppola opened up the scoring action for Waukee with just over 17 minutes left in the first half. The scoring load was a little uneven because the final two scores for the Warriors came off the feet of Edi Cokovic who picked up his 15th and 16th goals scored of the season. His first came four minutes after Waukee’s first goal as the junior found his way inside the 15-yard mark and quickly deposited the ball into the back corner of the net.
That goal marked the final goal of the first half and Waukee would take to the intermission break up 2-0. While most teams would be satisfied with a 2-0 halftime lead, that was far from the case with Waukee as head coach Carlos Acebey spoke about following the game.
“We will never be satisfied until our season is over,” began Acebey. “This team is a shining example of how you shouldn’t overlook anyone or be comfortable with anyone and any score. We know what it takes to win as the lower seed and we know we have to put teams away when we have the chance because this is the state tournament, teams have earned the right to be here.”
From there the Warriors kept up the pressure and added one more goal in the 57th minute of play also courtesy of Edi Cokovic. With those two goals scored Cokovic piked up his 16th goal scored of the season and as the junior himself put it, it’s due to a mixture of different variables.
“First off my teammates do a great job helping me out,” began Cokovic. “I’m naturally fast and with the help of my teammates, I use my speed to get past the defense and cause a lot of trouble. I’ve practiced a lot on my ball striking and so I don’t worry or focus too much on ball striking and focus more on putting myself in position for a shot.”
The win gives Waukee their 20th victory of the season and will now present the Warriors with their toughest test yet in a championship rematch with Bettendorf in semi-final action Saturday, June 1.