DES MOINES – It wasn’t easy, but win No. 20 is in the books for the Nevada girls’ soccer team.
The unbeaten and second-ranked Cubs (20-0) defeated ninth-rated Tri-Center, 1-0, in the Class 1A quarterfinals at the girls’ state soccer tournament June 12 at the Cownie Sports Complex.
"Coming in 19-0, you’re the team that everybody’s out to get," Nevada midfielder Abby Bremer said. "Getting to 20-0 is pretty exciting. We were pretty confident that we could make it through this game. Just knowing that really helped getting those first-game jitters out."
Bremer had a hand in the game’s only goal.
Nevada had possessed the ball most of the first half. The Cubs fired off six quality shots on goal in the first 23 minutes, but weren’t quite able to get one in the back of the net.
At the 24:15 mark of the game Nevada broke through.
Bremer possessed the ball, sent a great through ball to Abby Stephenson on the near side of the goal. Stephenson cranked off a shot that easily got by Trojan keeper Morgan Sullivan.
"I got around the defense and looked up to see Stevie (Stephenson) and she’s right there," Bremer said. "I chipped it up over them and she got a shot off. It was exciting."
Stephenson was a nightmare matchup for Tri-Center. The speedy freshman was relentless in her attack all game – never appearing to tire as she constantly ran down balls and got off numerous shots that constantly kept Sullivan and the Trojan defenders on their toes.
"Whenever I get that run I don’t even think about breathing," Stephenson said. "When I have that chance I just go all for it."
Stephenson just missed getting a goal 12 minutes into the game when Sullivan beat her to the ball by a hair.
In the second half Stephenson had a shot on a breakaway go just off the near post 25 minutes into the second half and she had a direct kick go just high one minute later. In the final two minutes of regulation, Stephenson gave Jessica Helton a great through ball that Sullivan again scooped up in the nick of time.
Helton and Kati Cassabaum also had some good looks. Cassabaum had the shot of the game when she drilled a 20-yard frozen rope from the left side that nailed the far post and bounced away.
On defense Nevada was its usual brilliant self, picking up its 15th shutout of the season.
Tri-Center’s Kaylee Grote entered the game as the leading scorer in 1A with 38 goals. With Grote being such a load to defend, the Trojans managed to pressure the Cubs a couple of times.
Grote ripped a direct kick 10 minutes into the game that all-state Cub keeper Clara Sporrer was able to snare. With five minutes left in the first half, Sporrer came up just in time to stop a breakaway by Grote and with two minutes remaining in regulation, Meghan Marsh had a shot go just wide.
"I knew we were looking at one player the most, but all of their other players were just as good as her and they never gave up," Nevada fullback Raegan Saunders said. "They were really good and fast, but we just talked it through – everyone does so well at marking up – and Clara did an amazing job."
Tri-Center finished the season at 16-4.
Nevada 1, Tri-Center Neola 0
TCN 0 0 – 0
N 1 0 – 1
N – Abby Stephenson (Abby Bremer), 24:15