DES MOINES — Heading into the Class 2A state championship, the Waverly-Shell Rock girls’ soccer team had revenge on their minds.
Back on April 6, Cedar Rapids Xavier came to the Waverly Soccer Complex and handed them a 3-2 loss. However, on Thursday, the Go-Hawks defeated the only team who beat them in 2018, Council Bluffs Lewis Central, 2-1 in overtime.
But on Saturday, despite all efforts, they fell just short of their goal.
Just 1 minute and 44 seconds into the first extra period, Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ella Kluesner lofted a shot from about 25 yards away that found its way over and behind W-SR goalkeeper Gabby Burman for the golden goal and a 2-1 victory to win the school’s 10th girls’ soccer championship.
The match was mostly a defensive battle, with the Saints (17-4) pressuring the ball from the Go-Hawks (17-2). Head Coach Lauren Greiner said what Xavier was doing wasn’t too much of a bother for her girls.
“Once we settled into play, we played right around them and right through that pressure,” Greiner said after the match. “We did a nice job connecting. Unfortunately, we didn’t connect as much as we’d like to see in the final third. Ultimately, I think we possessed and connected pretty well throughout a good portion of the match.
“This is a championship match. It should be a really tight match, and probably a defensive battle at that. It was today. We created some opportunities that we didn’t finish on, and we had some good balls across the box that we didn’t get on the end of today.”
Xavier had the first tailor-made chance in the 9th minute. A W-SR defender was called for a handle in the penalty area, forcing referee Tyler Eason to point to the spot.
But, Burman was equal to the challenge. The Saints’ leading scorer Caitlyn Daniels hit the penalty kick to her left, but the Go-Hawk netminder was able to parry the ball away, and the defense was able to clear it to touch to keep the game scoreless.
The Go-Hawks had just as good of a shot in the 23rd minute following a foul by the Saints just outside of the box. Kenzie Roling stepped up to the free kick near the arch and banged the ball right at Saint goalie Maggie Conrad, who made no effort to catch it.
However, a controversial goal occurred in the 43rd minute. The Saints had a corner kick that eventually made its way to Caitlyn Daniels, who passed the ball to Mary Kate Moeder.
Moeder’s shot appeared to most to have been cleared off the line by Kennedy Rieken. However, the assistant referee put up her flag to indicate the ball had totally crossed the goal line before Rieken could make the play.
Greiner said she couldn’t tell from her vantage point, and neither team thought it was a goal until Eason pointed to the center spot.
“It was a tough call for the AR to make, but evidently, she thought it was in,” she said.
But in the 64th minute, the Go-Hawks found an answer. Off a W-SR throw-in deep in the Saints’ defensive third, Xavier cleared it out toward midfield, but Lily Liekweg tracked it down before it went too far from goal.
She then reversed field to pass it to Kennedy Rieken, who sent the ball into the box. Macy Smith was able to get a touch on the ball to advance it ahead of the defense, and then flicked it past Conrad for the goal.
“Kennedy had a great ball across,” Greiner said. “Macy did an excellent job of following it and running through everything. Macy loves to work hard on her run-through and balls near the net like that, and she did an excellent job of that.”
The Go-Hawks nearly took the lead in the 69th minute. Siri Ott made a good move to get through the Saint defense, but her shot from just inside the area hit the side of the net behind the near post.
Just after the first minute of overtime, Smith laced a shot from about 30 yards away, but it curled right at Conrad to keep it knotted.
Less than a minute later, off a corner kick, Quinn Harrigan served the ball that was deflected out to Kluesner. Her shot floated tantalizingly close to Burman’s outstretched right hand, but it squeezed between her glove and the crossbar and into the net for the game-winner.
W-SR had three players earn all-tournament honors: Rieken, Ott and Roling. Greiner said the trio played well throughout the entire tournament.
“We had a lot of players who played great this weekend,” she said. “I thought we had a good tournament.
“We came out really sluggish on Thursday (a 2-1 OT victory over Lewis Central), but we turned it around and really connected and played well on Friday (a 1-0 win over Dallas Center-Grimes) and Saturday. Unfortunately, the scoreboard didn’t reflect what we’d like it to, but it’s been a fun season, and these kids have worked their tails off all season, and we’ve grown so much this season, and we’re confident we’ll be back here next year.”