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At this time last year, the Hoover Huskies experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows all in the span of minutes.
A game-tying goal against Ankeny Centennial in the substate final was followed by the Jaguars regaining the lead and ultimately ending Hoover's season, just short of a state tournament berth.
"We were like a step off from blocking that ball and getting to it. And that was our season, and so I've just been reminding them let's not leave it to chance. Let's not wait until the final six minutes. We need to make our impact," said Jon Rubino, Hoover head boys soccer coach.
This season, they've been able to channel that disappointment into a stellar regular season record of 14-1 and become one of the top-ranked teams in the state.
They found themselves in a similar position as last year — down one point in the substate championship, this time against Pella. They game tied in the second half.
This time around, they scored the winning goal and kept their season alive.
"It was a crazy night. I can't even describe it until right now. I feel like it's a dream. I can't believe it, that we won," junior Charles Matalatala said.
This dream season was a year in the making, and the team's juniors and seniors helped lay the foundation.
"The character that they've shown, the amount of work they put in with their clubs in the offseason, with us, some of them have even done swimming just to get stronger and faster," Rubino said. "It's really a blessing to be a part of [this team] and coach these guys, but it's also just amazing to watch what they've been able to accomplish."
Once considered underdogs, the Huskies now enter the tournament as the top dogs. And they've got the chance to add even more hardware to the school's trophy case.
"I feel like our school is growing over the years. We're getting better and better. Like this year, basketball made it to state for the first time in a little bit. Track, they had some winners over there. And now, it's our time. So like, it's a very proud moment for our school. I feel like we're representing our school very well," junior Remi Saidi said.