WATERLOO — The road to a third consecutive trip to the Class 1A state girls’ soccer tournament featured an early obstacle for third-ranked Waterloo Columbus during Friday’s regional semifinal at TJ McLaughlin Field.
Tara Hensel’s header off a Sydney Arens corner kick 20 minutes into the match gave Dyersville Beckman an early 1-0 lead before the Sailors responded and secured a 3-1 victory to advance to a regional final showdown with Denver at 6 p.m. Monday at Columbus.
Columbus took just four minutes to find an equalizer after Beckman scored the initial goal. Grace Surma found Sydney Shannon open in the Blazers’ penalty area and Shannon finished with poise.
Four minutes before the first half ended, Ana Ortiz provided a gem of a goal by finishing an Olivia Fain cross in half-volley fashion to give the Sailors their first lead.
“When she crossed it I hit it with my knee and I was afraid I missed the goal, but luckily it hit off the crossbar and went in,” said Ortiz.
“She (Ortiz) is kind of forgotten about and that’s a good thing,” said Sailor head coach Julie Girsch of her junior. “Ana’s got great power and she was right there on that one and it made us all feel better after that.”
After the break Columbus kept up the strong offense and eventually got an insurance goal in the 45th minute from Kiki Cabrera after she faked out two Beckman defenders before slotting an upper shelf goal past Kylie Bildstein in net for the Trailblazers.
The win improved Columbus to 12-4, while Dyersville Beckman fell to 10-8.
Now Cabrera and her teammates are set for a tough challenge as they’ll face No. 6 Denver, a 7-0 Friday winner over Dubuque Wahlert. Columbus edged the Cyclones 1-0 earlier this season.
“We’ve worked so hard and we don’t want our season to go to waste,” said Cabrera.
The Sailors hope to get past the Cyclones for another showing in the state tourney where Cabrera feels Columbus has open wounds.
“We still have that sour taste in our mouths from being eliminated the last two years and we’re using that to fuel our fire,” said Cabrera.
Elsewhere in local regional soccer, Gladbrook-Reinbeck advanced to the Class 1A, Region 4 final with a 1-0 win over Iowa Falls-Alden. The Rebels will face No. 5 Nevada, a 6-0 winner over Aplington-Parkersburg 6 p.m. Monday in Nevada.