No. 5 Cub girls top No. 7 Tigers in HOIC showdown
GILBERT — A strong and cold wind couldn’t stop the No. 5 Nevada girls’ soccer team from forcing a three-way tie for first in the Heart of Iowa Conference with a big 1-0 victory over No. 7 Gilbert in a Class 1A top-10 showdown Friday at Gilbert.
Things looked like they could be dicey for Nevada in the second half.
The Cubs dominated possession with the wind to their backs in the first half, but were unable to capitalize as the two teams went to the break engaged in a scoreless tie. With Gilbert having the wind in its favor, the Tigers entered the second half poised to make a run.
But that’s not what happened.
Nevada continued to control the pace of the game over the first 15 minutes of the second half. Then the Cubs broke the long scoreless stretch with a goal at the 54-minute, 41-second mark and never allowed Gilbert to make a serious run over the final 25 minutes.
“We talked at halftime, being the faster (turf) surface, that going against the wind might actually benefit us just for the fact that it’d be more like us playing on our grass,” Nevada head coach Randy Davis said. “The ball is not going to run away as fast for us and so forth. The girls were able to control the ball, pass better and they moved better.”
Erin Sellberg came up with Nevada’s goal.
Kati Cassabaum got her foot on a ball that bounced back to Sellberg from just outside the 18 in the middle of the field. Sellberg came up and drilled a 20-yard shot into the back of the net to give Nevada the only offense it needed.
“It got a little outside the box so I was like I better just take it,” Sellberg said. “We’ve been working on placing it well in practices and it just went in - it was a really good team effort. It felt really good to get one in, especially since we couldn’t get one when we had the wind the first half. We knew if we could just possess the rest of the game and stay calm, we could win the game.”
Having a great defense and all-state keeper Clara Sporrer certainly helped Nevada’s confidence down the stretch. The Cubs notched their fourth shutout victory in a row, improving to 9-3 overall and handing Gilbert its first HOIC loss.
“We knew we had to contain them when they were going into the wind,” Nevada sweeper Erin Francis said. “I think we did a good job of stepping up and stepping harder to the ball.”
It also helps that an inexperienced defensive back four with only one returning starter - charger Kaylee Kruschwitz - is starting to gel.
“We’re working together,” Francis said. “It’s clicking better.”
Gilbert suffered just its second overall loss, dropping to 10-2. Both Nevada and Gilbert are 3-1 against HOIC teams, tying them with No. 9 North Polk atop the conference.
Nevada 1, Gilbert 0
N 0 1 - 1
G 0 0 - 0
N - Erin Sellberg (Kati Cassabaum), 54:41.