WATERLOO — It was deja vu for the Waterloo girls’ soccer team Monday night.
Last year, Waterloo was 3-1 and had just hit the Class 3A rankings, then lost to Decorah in a shootout.
This time, Waterloo was 3-1, playing at home and ranked No. 14. Once again, the Vikings prevailed in a shootout, 2-1.
It was a painful loss for Waterloo, but growing pains come with a young team just learning to win.
“I thought we were the better team tonight, but we just could not get the ball in the net,” Waterloo coach Chris Worthley said. “The effort was good and we created so many good looks. We were just a little off tonight.”
Waterloo missed some early chances with good shots on goal, then connected in the seventh minute.
Selma Begic positioned herself in front of the net, picked up a pass from a teammate and fired the chance through Vikings goalkeeper Skyler Malone’s grasp.
There were seven more attacks in the first half directed at Malone, but she rose to the occasion and stuffed the Waterloo chances. Malone had help from a stingy defense, as well. After snuffing a shot from 10 yards out in the 26th minute, Malone watched Aubrey Buresh put her body in front of another attempt seconds later to keep the score 1-nil.
“I have to give the Waterloo girls credit,” said Decorah coach Loren Hendrickson. “They put some intense pressure on us most of the first half and we had troubles getting going. We finally settled in and put the pressure on them toward the end of the first half, then came out in the second and never let up.”
The aggressive Vikings picked up a penalty shot opportunity in the 58th minute, but Clara Rooney’s blast sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
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As the clock became more of an enemy to Decorah, Elise Miller broke free and juked Waterloo keeper Isabella Guyer for the game-tying score.
It was still 1-1 after regulation and two 10-minute overtimes.
Buresh, Celia Lesmeister and Gracia Taylor scored on their shootout attempts for the Vikings, and Kayla Koch, Alexus Imbouathong and Erin Rankin found the net for Waterloo.
Abigail Milburn poked a shot low to Guyer’s right side to score, and Malone guessed right as she turned away Waterloo’s fourth shot to secure the win.
“Most of the time teams will try to shoot the ball low and we just have to guess which side,” said Malone. “I just guessed right that time and stayed focused on the ball. It sure feels great when that happens, but I know it feels just terrible when you guess wrong and lose.”
Malone stopped seven shots on net after surrendering the early goal.
“I wasn’t sure how that goal got in, but I knew I had to help keep the defense up and not let any more get by me,” said Malone.
For Waterloo, the loss will be a measuring tool for the rest of the season.
“The outcome of this game has become a gut check for us,” said Worthley. “We have (Dubuque) Hempstead tomorrow night and we will see how we bounce back.”