WATERLOO — Getting the first game of the soccer season out of the way can be a huge step for a lot of teams.
Despite a 2-1 loss to Union of La Porte City Thursday at the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, Cedar Falls girls’ soccer first-year head coach Alex Place said getting outside and playing was only a positive for the Tigers.
“We have not gotten outside much this year due to the weather,” Place said. “But we began this year by saying we are going to take steps throughout the year to get better and be ready by the end. Tonight was our first step and I love the way we played to the final minute.”
Both squads played tough defense throughout the first half as the game was scoreless at halftime.
The Knights turned up the pressure over the final 40 minutes dominating on the offensive end, and eventually tallied their first goal of the season in the 57th minute.
Forward Riley Rosaur picked up a loose ball from 30 feet out and sent a long ball to the left corner of the net guarded by Tigers senior Kyra Takes. The shot continued to tail to the left clearing a dive by Takes, giving the Knights a 1-0 edge.
Midfielder, Emma Rottinghaus put a little insurance on the board in the 71st minute, putting her team up 2-0 with nine minutes remaining.
Rottinghaus outdueled the Tigers defense from the center of the pitch and turned toward the net and let fly a 40-foot offering. The ball found its way to the back of the nylon.
“I like taking those long shots,” Rottinghaus said. “That goal is only so big so you have to hit it hard and in the right spot. I was a little off tonight, but that one felt good. You can never score enough goals and we knew we couldn’t stop.”
The Tigers began to pressure back and attacked the defensive end of the Knights late in the game. One minute after the Knights took their 2-0 lead, the Tigers’ Meg Kuntz found all net on a blast that brought the Tigers to a 2-1 margin.
“Our girls did not give in and they fought a tough back-and-forth battle,” Place said. “A lot can happen in eight minutes of soccer, and we all got pretty excited after that goal. I thought if we could just get one more you never know what could happen. I loved the attitude of this team and they know what it feels like to get a goal now.”
Union almost picked up yet another tally as Rosaur saw a hard shot slam off the cross bar and to the ground in front of Takes. The ball bounced away and the Tigers cleared to keep the margin at one.
“We always play Cedar Falls at the beginning of the year and it is always a good game for us,” Knights coach Hunter Zempel said. “They are a quality team and this win should really give us a big shot in the arm.”
Union, which opened the season ranked 11th in Class 2A, returns nine players who played in last year’s Class 2A state title game.
“I was pretty happy with our performance tonight and we were close to getting a few more goals that hit the pipes or just went wide,” added Zempel. “This was just our first game and we are still a work in progress right now. Hopefully this will build up our confidence for the rest of the way.”