Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rapid City Stevens tops Sioux Falls Lincoln for boys ‘AA’ soccer championship

Rapid City Stevens celebrates a state soccer championship
Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Rapid City Stevens celebrates a state soccer championship

Rapid City Stevens defeated Sioux Falls Lincoln on Saturday afternoon at Titans Stadium in Tea 4-1 to win the ‘AA’ boys state soccer championship. For the Raiders, this is their second sanctioned state boys' soccer title.

Stevens scored first in the contest within the first thirteen minutes off a penalty kick goal by senior Zack Williams.

“The nerves were settling in. I heard the crowd kind of going. It was the first half, so I knew it was going to set the tone, and I set the ball down and I knew my place,” told Williams. “I just hit it. Before I hit it, I envisioned that I scored and then I did it in real life.”

Less than two-minutes later, Gabriel Cox found the back of the net to give the Raiders a 2-0 lead.

Sioux Falls Lincoln would score late in the first half off an ‘own goal’ deflection, which made it 2-1 game at the break.

Zack Williams recaptured the momentum for Stevens with his second goal of the match at the 34:11 mark in the second half. This made it a 3-1 contest. The Raiders would score again near the midway point of the second half on an own goal. Stevens would hold on for the 4-1 victory.

“It feels so great. We’ve been working so hard for this,” said Williams. “The team, we’ve been thinking about this from the first practice, and to come out with the victory, it just feels so great to have that title. It’s the perfect way to end it. The last game is a ‘W,’ it’s awesome.”

Williams is one of twelve seniors on this year’s Stevens squad. Raiders coach Jeff Fierro credits a lot of this season’s success to the strength in mentality of his upperclassmen.

“Some of our seniors have been here for five years, they came up as eighth graders. We’re very intentional about what we do with our program, from our core values and everything and so, these guys just know how to do things,” Fierro explained. “It’s amazing to have them lead certain things in practice and in our classroom session. They just buy in to what we want to do. I ask them if our goal is a state championship, they say ‘yes,’ and we work backwards from that. This team would not be the same without them, and to have twelve of them, and every single one of them contributed to this team in a special way.”

Coming into the state title match with Lincoln, Coach Fierro mentioned how it wasn’t going to be their intent to force unnecessary errors, but he also wanted his team to be aggressive.

“Hats off to Lincoln, they’re a great team,” he said. “We watched a lot of film on them. We thought we saw a few things we could take advantage of and our guys just played well. They executed, and we were looking for intensity from the start and we had it, so it’s just a great feeling.”

While it’s not the first championship for the program, each one has its own unique feel.

“It always feels different, it always feels great in a different way,” said Fierro. “This team has a slightly different personality that we’ve had. This team will have a different personality next year, and so to do it with this group of guys and to have their work pay off in this way, it’s a phenomenal feeling.”

Rapid City Stevens has played in the boys' state soccer championship match four times, winning it in 2015 and now 2022.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.