DES MOINES - Freshman Kacie Rewerts didn’t let her chance to shine go to waste during the Class 1A quarterfinal game between Nevada and Denver at the Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines June 8.
The two teams were engaged in a sudden-death shootout when Rewerts stepped into the penalty box as the sixth shooter for Nevada. Both teams made three shots during the opening run of five players, but Nevada was given a golden opportunity to start the next run when keeper Grace Francis snared a shot by the Cyclones’ Ellie Foelske.
That put Rewerts in position to win the game. She aimed at the goal, went to kick and instead of choosing a side, shot high toward the center of the net.
The ball went up past Cyclone keeper Carlie Knoll and touched the net to give the Cubs a dramatic 2-1 victory and put them in the state semifinals for the sixth season in a row.
“It felt awesome,” Rewerts said. “All of us have been working hard in practice every day on PKs, so it just felt great to win it with those.”
When starting sweeper Izzy Kapustka went down with an injury, Cub head girls’ soccer coach Randy Davis moved midfielder Kaylee Kruschwitz back and put Rewerts on the field. That enabled Rewerts to ease any nerves she had playing in her first state tournament as she got into the flow of the game.
“I wouldn’t have thought that would’ve happened,” Rewerts said. “So sorry for Izzy because she’s a big part of our team. But it feels great that I can help the rest of the team out.”
Rewerts never would have received a shot at the game-winning penalty kick had it not been the clutch play of Francis.
Francis made a diving stop on the opening kick of the shootout by Denver’s Annie Place. Knoll answered with a block for the Cyclones two kickers later, but Francis forced Brenna Sorenson to shoot wide on the fifth attempt to keep the Cubs in control.
Knoll came back with a stop on a shot by Nevada’s Hattie Rhodes to force the sixth shooter. But Francis was there to answer, drifting to her right then adjusting back toward the middle just in time to corral Foelske’s attempt — setting up Rewerts.
“I knew I had to make a stop,” Francis said. “I did and we ended up winning.”
Faith in her teammates helped Francis get through the high-pressure situation of being a keeper in a shootout.
“I was really nervous going into it,” Francis said. “But I knew if it went in my team would come back, (my team) would come back, fire a shot and get it past the goalie and get us the win.”
The two teams ended regulation tied at 1-1.
After an even first half, Denver gained the upper hand in possession midway through the second half. Leading Cyclone scorer Johnnie Hill converted a breakaway goal at the 57-minute, two-second mark to break a scoreless tie.
Nevada didn’t get many good looks in the final 23 minutes. But it only took one for all-stater Abby Stephenson to tie the score.
Stephenson took a great ball from Rhodes and ripped a shot past Knoll at the 61:19 mark.
The final 18:51 was another stretch of evenly played ball where neither team got much of an upper hand. Denver did have a great look in the final seconds, but Francis gave a preview of her shootout heroics by making a stop with 10 seconds left to make sure the game went into overtime.
“I really like how we just fought through the whole game,” Stephenson said. “We were just playing pretty even keel the whole time. We’re really proud of how we played and we’re ready for the next game.”
Stephenson said six straight trips to state by the Cubs played a big role in their ability to fend off Denver.
“Cownie has such a home feeling for all of us,” Stephenson said. “We’ve just been here for so long we’re really comfortable here.”
The victory put Nevada at 14-4. Denver ended its season at 17-4.