Analysis: Nevada girls soccer beats Gilbert for first time since 2016 in season opener

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

GILBERT — The girls soccer season opened with a bang for Nevada and Gilbert March 28 at Tiger Stadium in Gilbert.

In a rivalry matchup between two perennial state qualifiers, Nevada was able to prevail in a 1-0 shootout for its first victory over Gilbert since 2016.

Nevada defender Graci Schiller (21) and Gilbert forward Katherine O'Brien (35} attempt to head the ball during the first half at Gilbert High School Monday, March 28, 2022, in Gilbert, Iowa.

"It just feels great to have a winning start," Nevada senior forward Mayzi Weig said.

The game was a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtime periods to set up the shootout. Both teams were hampered by a cold, brisk wind that made it tough to get an accurate shot that wasn't on the ground.

Here is what we learned from Nevada's hard-fought road victory over the Tigers:

Nevada girls soccer shows its mettle in the shootout

Gilbert had momentum for the majority of Monday's game. The Cubs had their looks, but the Tigers were in control for most the night, finishing with 16 shots on offense.

But with keeper Maddie Dunham and a great defensive back line holding strong, Nevada withstood everything Gilbert threw its way to get to the shootout.

Once in the shootout, Nevada showed tremendous poise. The Cubs made all four of their penalty kicks.

"We were all talking to each other, supporting each other and saying, 'Nice, easy shot,'" Weig said. "I think we all did that."

Tessa Borwick got the ball rolling for Nevada during the shootout by converting the first penalty kick and Weig followed up to put Nevada up 2-0. Gilbert missed its first PK.

Savannah Skaggs made the Cubs 3-for-3 and, after Gilbert was off on its third kick, Alexandria Arnaud punched the ball past Tiger keeper Braelyn Thomas to wrap up the victory for Nevada.

Gilbert head coach Danny Jones said his team simply didn't take advantage of its opportunities during regulation and the two overtimes and it came back to bite them in the shootout.

Gilbert mid-fielder Ava Johnson (8) kicks the ball around Nevada mid-fielder Mady Gibson (16) during the first half at Gilbert High School Monday, March 28, 2022, in Gilbert, Iowa.

"We need to finish our shots," Jones said. "We didn't tonight and we weren't successful on our PKs. We've got to be successful on our PKs."

Maddie Dunham comes up big for Nevada

Dunham took over the starting keeper position for Nevada this season after last year's talented starter, Addi Vorm, graduated. 

Her first game was outstanding.

"At first it was a little nerve-racking," Dunham said. "Once the game started going, I took a few deep breaths and calmed myself down. I kept going and had fun throughout the whole game."

Dunham played a big role in keeping Gilbert off the board for 100 minutes plus the shootout. She was in the right spot every time Gilbert made a good run or got off a quality shot.

In the shootout, she didn't need to make a save as Gilbert's Sarah Thatcher was wide and Sydney Lynch hit the far post on the two Tiger misses. But she still was in good position and also got her hand on the ball during Gilbert's only make — a conversion by Ava Johnson.

Dunham admitted she felt a lot better after Thatcher missed Gilbert's first PK of the shootout.

"It was a ton of relief," Dunham said. "Then I took a deep breath and was calm." 

Cub girls top Indianola

The Nevada girls went to 2-0 Friday with a 2-1 victory over Indianola at Nevada.

All of the scoring was done in the second half. Tori Meinecke and freshman Avery Anderson each scored a goal for Nevada. They were the first two goals in regulation for the Cubs on the season after they won a 1-0 shootout over Gilbert in their opener.

Dunham made three saves at keeper in the win for Nevada.

Lake Martin scored Indianola's only goal. Hope Overton made 11 saves for the Indians.

Nevada boys fall to Gilbert in opener

The Nevada boys opened the season with a 2-0 loss to Gilbert March 28 at Cub Stadium in Nevada.

The Cubs were limited to four shots in the loss. Drew Robinson had 2 shots and Kyle Kingsbury and Edgar Cabrera 1 apiece for the Cubs.

Owen Freeman made 5 saves at keeper for Nevada. Zach Holtan and Owen Kautman each scored a goal for Gilbert.