WATERLOO — Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck goalkeeper Carsen Hamann spent portions of Tuesday night’s season-opener with her arms crossed, trying to keep warm while her teammates created numerous scoring chances on the other end of the soccer field.
When Class 1A’s No. 8-ranked Waterloo Columbus threatened to end a scoreless standoff with a blistering wind at its back in the first overtime period, Hamann answered the bell. The GC/G-R senior denied Jenna Schott’s strike with 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining and then saved a well-placed shot by Emily Surma inside the far post as time expired.
No. 13-ranked GC/G-R finally broke through with 5:44 left in the second overtime period. Belen Ellenberger’s shot deflected off a Columbus defender and Maddie McMartin pounced on the ball inside the 18-yard box for the game-winning goal en route a 1-0 victory at T.J. McLaughlin Field.
“We talked yesterday in that 18, all we really have to do is just put any part of the body on the ball and just get it towards the goal,” GC/G-R’s third-year head coach Aaron Mara said. “Maddie got the toe poke on it and it goes in.”
Mara’s team is poised to make a step forward after returning 10 starters from last year’s 9-7 squad. That group includes the security of a multi-year starter in net.
“It’s one of those things I just don’t have to worry about,” Mara said. “Carsen has been solid for me. This is her third year starting. … She’s great back there.”
Columbus kept GC/G-R off the scoreboard for over 94 minutes with its own standout multi-year starting goalkeeper. Sailor senior Sydney Schultz batted away a strike off the first of multiple accurate corner kick deliveries from Sydney Mathews before going up to deny a shot off Ellenberger’s run later in the opening half. Schultz then punched a high-arcing shot safely off the crossbar in the 54th minute.
“She’s solid for us,” Columbus coach Julie Girsch said of her goalkeeper. “She made some really great, big saves.”
After the graduation of its top two facilitators on offense from a 12-6 state tournament run, Columbus is working to fill key roles. Further complicating matters in Tuesday’s opener was an injury to sweeper Reagan Lindsay in the 64th minute.
“We’re still trying to figure out where we’re going to mesh best,” Girsch said, noting her team was missing a pair of players due to a school trip, while a couple others are recovering from injuries. “I thought we did better in the second half and our overtimes. We just had a lapse there clearing that ball and they capitalized on our mistake.”
Weather has kept both programs indoors for the opening weeks of practice. This marked GC/G-R’s fifth day outside, while it was just day two on grass for Columbus.
“Conditioning is a huge issue at this point, but we played hard,” Mara said. “I just kept telling my girls they’ve just got to keep shooting and keep plugging away at it. I’m happy with the effort and happy that they came away with the win.”