LA PORTE CITY — Marion struck first, but third-ranked Union of La Porte City never flinched.
The Knights scored the next nine goals as Union earned its eighth trip to the Iowa girls’ state soccer tournament with a 9-2 win over Marion Monday in a Class 2A regional final.
Just 13 minutes into the contest, Marion grabbed the early lead as a Kayba Laube strike sailed over the head of Union goalkeeper Jasmyn Bush’s head. For the next 16 minutes, the Knights went on the attack, but Indian goalie Grace Byers turned away numerous attempts.
Finally, Union broke through as Courtney Powell, scored the first of her four goals, slotting a shot in the 29th minute. The Knights soon after added two more thanks to an Emma Rottinghaus, 25-yard free kick that found side netting, and another Powell finish a minute later.
“I was looking far post and it was open,” said Rottinghaus of the goal that gave Union the lead. “Luckily it was over the keeper and still went in.”
The quick three goal outburst to finish the first half was how the Knight’s coach Hunter Zempel expected his squad to bounce back from the early deficit.
“It’s just a testament to their mental strength to get put on the wrong foot like that and just battle back,” said Zempel.
The Knights piled on to their comeback to leave no doubt in the second half.
Powell grabbed her second goal in the first minute after the restart and seven minutes later, Rottinghaus used a fortunate bounce to make the score 4-1. And then less than a minute later, Allie Carty headed a Powell cross and it was 5-1.
Powell would score Union’s next two goals to give her 71 for the season, breaking the all-time single-season scoring record held by her cousin, Darian Powell, who is now at Marquette University.
“It’s pretty awesome especially considering my cousin Darian had it,” said Powell.
The record was secondary on Powell’s agenda for Monday, however.
“It was in the back of my mind coming into the game, but obviously the main goal was to win and get the team onto state,” she said.
Madison Frush also scored for the Knights, and Marion (10-6) tallied a late goal.
It was a strong performance by the entire team at the right time of the season and was something Zempel was glad to see.
“You know Courtney always gets the headlines, but we’ve got plenty of high quality girls on this team,” Zemplel said. “We’re on a roll right now, and we’re just looking to do damage at state.”
This is Union’s first trip to Des Moines since 2015 when it was bounced in the first round by Iowa City Regina.
“Our whole team knows our goal is to finish holding the trophy, we’re all ready and we’re going to get there,” Rottinghaus said.
Union will face Waverly-Shell Rock in a first-round game Thursday at the Cownie Sports Complex in Des Moines at 3:15 p.m..
The Knights topped the Go-Hawks, 1-0, on April 11th in a regular-season contest.