DES MOINES – Three hard.
When top-seeded Waverly-Shell Rock hit an early speed bump Wednesday in a Class 2A girls’ state semifinal against Spencer, the Go-Hawks turned to a familiar mantra.
Seeking a third-straight trip to the state championship game, WSR saw an early miscue give the Tigers a 1-0 lead midway through the first half.
Instead of panicking, WSR turned the momentum quickly to its side and scored the final five goals as the Go-Hawks trounced Spencer, 5-1, on the main pitch at James W. Cownie Soccer Complex.
“One of our things is momentum,” Go-Hawk star forward Kenzie Roling said. “It doesn’t matter who scores it is three hard (minutes) after. So, I thought we responded well to them scoring, then us scoring and continuing the momentum.”
Waverly-Shell Rock advances to a 12:30 p.m. title game against seventh-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes, who blanked third-seeded Norwalk, 1-0, in the other semifinal.
The Go-Hawks beat the Mustangs earlier this season, 3-2.
“This is something we talked about all season and having that full confidence we were going to be there on Friday,” Roling said. “We will rest up tomorrow and be ready Friday.”
Spencer got the first break of the game.
The Tigers’ Brooke Moser was the benefactor of one of WSR’s only mistakes of the first half
A long pass rolled into the WSR box and freshman goalie Katelyn Eggena came out to play it. Unfortunately, the ball spun out of Eggena’s hands right to Moser who scored into an empty net in the 24th minute.
But from that point on it was all Go-Hawks.
In the 27th minute, Roling drew three defenders at the top of the box and slipped a pass to Anna Stromberg who buried her one-on-one chance with Spencer goalie Payton Cooper.
“I don’t think we were nervous,” WSR forward Anna Stromberg said. “We had had our chances up until they got one lucky one through. But once they got it we knew we had to step up our game, find feet and keep up our pace the rest of the game. And once we found our pace we went with it, stuck with it and we got goals.”
Eggena came up big two minutes later making a point-blank save on Tiger leading scorer Alexa Johnson.
In the 31st minute, Roling hit the left post as WSR began to pepper Cooper with a relentless attack.
The Go-Hawks took the lead for good on a great individual effort by Macy Smith. Smith made a run down the far left, turned the corner carrying the ball into the box and her cross found Morgan Aikey for a 2-1 lead in the 37th minute.
“That is the fun part about our first two goals is they came from people who don’t get all the attention,” Go-Hawk head coach Lauren Griener said. “But I think that proves we are 11 and is something special about our team…their willingness across the board to be unselfish and set each other up which is exactly what happened with the first and second goals.”
Then with just 1:05 left to half, Roling tallied her 70th goal of the season after being set up by Aikey and WSR had a two-goal advantage at halftime.
“I think that first goal kind of lit a fire under us and we just knew we needed to go out and finish our opportunities,” Greiner added.
Roling added her second goal in the 47th minute, and completed her hat tracik in the 73rd minute with her 72nd goal of the season as the Go-Hawks dominated the final 40 minutes.
“We knew if we kept playing our game and settling in, connecting with our passe we’d be fine,” Roling said. “We had all the confidence out there.”
The state championship berth is the Go-Hawks fifth overall and third straight. WSR is 0-4 in championship games.
Collection of Waverly-Shell Rock state semifinal photos
“Obviously we have made it there two times and our goal is to finish it on Friday. We are not going to back down,” Stromberg finished.