WATERLOO — Sometimes the ball bounces in the right direction. Sometimes, it doesn’t.
Thursday night at the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, Cedar Falls senior Ellie Gruhn saw the ball bounce just right.
One of six Tiger seniors playing in their final home regular-season game, Gruhn recorded a hat trick as Cedar Falls snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over Waterloo United.
“Yep. Yep. The ball bounced just right,” Gruhn said.
Gruhn scored the only goal of the first half in the 25th minute after a shot on Waterloo goalkeeper Izzy Guyer. Guyer slightly bobbled the ball, and she and Gruhn had some contact inside the box, but the official let the play go on and Gruhn scored into an empty net.
“Knowing that the keeper will come out and trying to win those 50-50 balls and then getting to the goal,” Gruhn said of the key to her goals Thursday. “We just played so hard for each other tonight, one last time for all the seniors.”
Gruhn made it 2-0 in the 69th minute with a similar play and finished the hat trick in the 73rd minute when she blasted a shot from 20 yards out.
Gruhn now has five goals on the season.
“We played with a lot of heart,” Tigers head coach Alex Place said. “We’ve had a really hard season this year. The fact they came out with a lot of heart, against a rival, a really good team, it was really fun to watch them come together.
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“We really pressured their defense, high intensity, and I think it really worked.”
The win improved Cedar Falls to 3-11 overall as the Tigers play at the North Polk Invitational Saturday.
For Waterloo (7-7) it’s been frustrating stretch that has seen the team lose four starters to injury, including two ACL tears, and it only got worse Thursday.
Twelve minutes into the contest, leading scorer Faith Trelka (nine goals) went down with a left leg injury and she did not return. Trelka was seen trying to jog behind the bench in the second half, but was limping badly.
With Trelka out, a Waterloo team that had somewhat controlled the first 12 minutes of the game looked tentative.
“It is tough,” Waterloo head coach Chris Worthley said. “But they out-played us. It doesn’t matter who you play on the field, it is the next girl up, and she’s got to do the job, and Cedar Falls was certainly up for it tonight more than we were.
“It is a rivalry game and they played with a lot of passion and desire, and we just didn’t match it.”
This story has been updated to correct the information that six seniors played in their final game. Five were on the varsity roster, and one senior played on JV.