Cubs score 2-1 win in 1A quarterfinals
DES MOINES – The offensive prowess of the Cassabaum sisters and a determined defense were enough to get Nevada past Iowa City Regina in the quarterfinal round of the Class 1A girls’ state tournament June 6 at the Cownie Soccer Park.
Sophomore forward Elli Cassabaum broke a 1-1 tie with a goal off a feed from her younger sister Kati four minutes, 25 seconds into the second half. The rest of the half was a tense affair as Nevada faced tons of pressure defensively, especially in the final 10 minutes.
But the Cubs persevered, holding off a relentless Regal team for a 2-1 victory to advance to the 1A semifinals for the second year in a row.
"It feels amazing," Nevada fullback Raegan Saunders said. "We were so excited to do it last year and we were just ready to come out and do it again this year. It’s exciting."
Elli’s winning goal came when her sister Kati forwarded her a great ball; she was able to dribble ahead of the Regal defense and easily punch one past Regina keeper Megan Fackler.
"I think Kati and I work pretty well together at the top," Elli said. "It was a great pass from Kati and one of those opportunities. It just worked perfectly."
Elli has made scoring clutch goals at state a regular occurrence. She scored the lone goal in Nevada’s 1-0 state quarterfinal win over Gilbert last year, which was the first state victory for Nevada in four tries."
"That’s the time to step up," Elli said. "This is the second time in history that we’ve won a game at state. It feels good."
But the game was far from over after the big go-ahead Cub goal. There was still over 35 minutes left on the clock and Regina made sure Nevada had to sweat out every minute.
The Regals had back-to-back shots on goal go just off the mark during the 53rd and 54th minutes. During the 62nd minute, Regina had another shot go just over the goal.
The last 10 minutes saw Regina keep up the pressure and get multiple good looks. But with veteran sweeper Danielle Thomsen and Saunders leading the way, the Cub defense made sure the Regals didn’t slip one past Cub keeper Clara Sporrer.
"They’re fast and they never let up," Saunders said of Regina. "They kept the pressure hard on us and had a bunch of shots on goal, but we kept our composure and made sure we weren’t going to let up, no matter what.
"We had to talk a lot," Saunders added. "Danielle did a good job of telling us who to mark and (charger) Amber (Ramthun) always does a good job of telling us who’s open out there that we can’t see."
Sporrer was also tremendous for Nevada. She came up with a couple big stops in the first half and was in great position during every big Regina run in the second half.
Regina’s lone score came just 6:28 into the game when Lizzy Deprenger followed up a free kick and nailed a shot into the goal. But Sporrer stepped up with two great stops later in the half – diving to stop a shot on goal during the 27th minute and also making a great deflection 10 minutes later.
"A couple balls came back to me and I knew I had to get them so we could play tomorrow," Sporrer said. "It took awhile to get into the game, but as soon as I got confidence going into the second half, I knew I could save them. The defense played really well and it was just all a team effort."
Jessica Helton helped break the early tension for Sporrer and the rest of the team when she answered Deprenger’s goal. Helton dribbled through the Regal defense and placed a perfect ball into the net at the 13:14 mark.
"I just knew I had to come in and help change the momentum," Helton said. "I got that nice knee to a ball and got it to Michaela (Matuska) and she passed it back to me and I just found a wide-open goal. It got us all pumped up and we knew we could do it."
The victory put Nevada, the fifth ranked team in 1A, at 13-5, and fourth-rated Regina ended the season at 12-3.
Nevada 2, Iowa City Regina 1
N 1 1 – 2
ICR 1 0 – 1
ICR – Lizzy Deprenger (Jenny Wick), 6:28
N – Jessica Helton, 13:14
N – Elli Cassabaum (Kati Cassabaum), 44:25