DES MOINES — Waverly-Shell Rock’s girls’ soccer team feels a little snake bit
One year after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in the 2A state finals, the Go-Hawks suffered more heartbreak Saturday, and once again in the 2A state championship game at Cownie Soccer Park.
Ninety seconds into overtime, Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ella Kluesner fired a shot from just outside of the box into the top of the net to lift the Saints (17-4) to a 2-1 victory over Waverly-Shell Rock in the 2A finale.
“We knew this would be a tight match,” Go-Hawks coach Lauren Greiner said. “They (Saints) are a very high pressure team, and I thought we played around them and had good possessions all day. We connected very well, except getting the ball into the net. We created a lot of opportunities but just didn’t finish it.”
One opportunity the Go-Hawks (17-2) took advantage of came in the 62nd minute while trailing 1-0.
Senior attacker Kennedy Rieken dribbled the ball down the right sideline with very little resistance and punched the ball to the center of the field in front of the Saints net. Freshman Macy Smith was waiting in the crowd when the ball came down, and the freshman brought the ball down turned and shot, putting the ball to the back of the net.
“I just happened to be right there when the ball came in,” Smith said. “I knocked the ball down and turned and put a shot on goal. I didn’t even see the keeper, I just shot and saw it go in, and knew that we all of a sudden had the momentum and emotions to pull this off.
“I was here last year, on the bench, when we lost the championship and I didn’t want to go through those emotions again. I really thought we had everything we needed on this team to get here and win it all. It wasn’t meant to be I guess.”
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The Go-Hawks played with plenty of emotion for 80-plus minutes to force overtime. Xavier, which beat WSR, 3-2 earlier in the season, the Go-Hawks’ only other loss, took a 1-0 lead early in the second half when Mark Kate Moeder scored on a Caitlyn Daniels assist in the 43rd minute.
“This team worked so hard all season and knew we could get to this point,” said Rieken. “Great things happened for us and I had so much faith that we were going to be able to do it this year. It is so hard to have it end right here like it did last year,” added the senior. “It is just hard to think about right now. We thought we were going to win it.”
The 10-minute overtime was not kind to the Go-Hawks.
The ball stayed in the Saints offensive end for 90 seconds, before Kluesner took in a pass from Quinn Hanigan, and launched a rocket high toward the Go-Hawks net. WSR junior keeper, Gabby Burman made a valiant effort to climb the ladder to swat the ball away, but the shot was perfect as it just sailed over her reach and angled back into the net.
“When we scored off that great ball across the field from Kennedy, I thought we had the momentum,” said Greiner. “Macy made a good play to get it in, but we just couldn’t work another one in. All these players have worked their tails off this year and it is too sad we couldn’t get this one.”
Working their tails off paid dividends for three Go-Hawks as they were awarded medals for making the all-tournament team.
Sophomore’s Siri Ott and Kenzie Roling grabbed the honor along with Rieken.