DES MOINES - There was no backing down from Nevada when the Cubs took on No. 1 Davenport Assumption in the Class 1A semifinals of the girls’ state soccer tournament Friday at the Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
Assumption entered the game having won five of the last six 1A state championships. The Knights had beaten Nevada four times during that stretch.
This time the Cubs were bigger underdogs than ever before, but they didn’t play like it.
Nevada fell behind early, but managed to stay within one goal until there were less than 10 minutes remaining in a 2-0 loss.
“I’m so proud of this team and how much effort they put in,” Nevada keeper Grace Francis said. “Trying to match (Assumption’s) speed was difficult, but they pushed as hard as they could and worked really hard.”
Assumption appeared like it was going to follow up its 9-0 quarterfinal win over Iowa City Regina with a rout over Nevada after scoring three minutes into the game. The Knights’ Abbey Klostermann put a ball past Francis from close range.
“They came out real strong and we just didn’t match their tempo in the first three minutes,” Nevada all-stater Abby Stephenson said. “It cost us that goal.”
But Nevada regrouped to withstand the Knight’s dominant attack the rest of the half. Francis made a couple big stops and the Nevada defensive back line did enough to prevent Assumption from overwhelming Francis.
Assumption continued looking like the stronger team in the second half. But Nevada didn’t allow the Knights to completely dominate possession.
The Cubs got a couple solid runs in on offense over the final 40 minutes. Kaylee Kruschwitz, Holly Coogler, Abbie Lindsey and Gillian Tupper performed great on defense, despite Kruschwitz being a new addition at sweeper.
Kruschwitz spent most of her varsity career at charger before moving to the midfield this year. But with starting sweeper Izzy Kapustka out with an injury suffered in the Cubs’ 2-1 shootout win over Denver in the state quarterfinals, Kruschwitz took over the sweeper position and performed admirably.
“I never played there before, but they definitely helped me become familiar with the position,” Kruschwitz said. “I think we played really well together and I’m happy with what happened the past two games.”
Nevada exerted a lot of energy trying to hold off the Knights and get a few runs of their own in an attempt to the game. That took its toll in the final 10 minutes of regulation as Assumption broke its long scoring drought with a goal from Livy Lansing to sew up the game.
For Nevada it was the close of an extremely successful chapter. The Cub senior class reached the semifinals four times and the championship game twice at state, making them the second-most successful program in 1A during that stretch behind Assumption.
“It’s been really great,” Stephenson said. We’ve got a great coaching staff. We always have great teams and good chemistry all the time. It’ll be really sad not to come back to it.”
Nevada finished the 2017 season at 14-5. Assumption went on to claim its sixth state title in seven years Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Center Point-Urbana in the title game to finish 19-2.