The Spencer High School girls soccer team liked how it played for the first 20 minutes of its match Wednesday against Waverly-Shell Rock.
Then, the second water break came during the first half.
Brooke Moser scored the first — and only — goal for the Tigers in the first half, then the Go-Hawks reeled off five straight to beat the Tigers 5-1 during a Class 2A state semifinal at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
Moser’s goal came at the 16-minute, 38-second mark of the first half, and Moser was at the right place at the right time.
Alexa Johnson set up the play by kicking the ball ahead to Moser, with a couple of W-SR players nearby. Moser got the ball, and shot it toward the net.
The kick went to the Go-Hawks goalkeeper, but Moser’s kick was hard enough that it went through her hands.
Moser was in the right spot to get to the ball without any contest, and she simply kicked the ball into the back of the net.
“Everyone was excited on the sideline and on the field,” Spencer coach John Hansel said. “After that goal, I was feeling good at that point. We talked about pressing them and we’ve always been pressing teams. We were in the same boat with the heat, but with the style that we play, we could do that for 20 minutes.”
It was hard to maintain that aggressive style of play for the final 60 minutes, and the Go-Hawks cracked that code shortly after the second water break of the half.
In the 27th minute, W-SR’s Kenzie Roling drew three defenders at the top of the box and she slipped a pass to Anna Stromberg who buried her one-on-one chance with Cooper.
“I don’t think we were nervous,” WSR forward Anna Stromberg said. “We had had our chances up until they got one lucky one through. But once they got it we knew we had to step up our game, find feet and keep up our pace the rest of the game. And once we found our pace we went with it, stuck with it and we got goals.”
Eggena came up big two minutes later making a point-blank save on Johnson.
The Go-Hawks took the lead for good on a great individual effort by Macy Smith. Smith made a run down the far left, turned the corner carrying the ball into the box and her cross found Morgan Aikey for a 2-1 lead in the 37th minute.
“That is the fun part about our first two goals is they came from people who don’t get all the attention,” Go-Hawks coach Lauren Griener said. “But I think that proves we are 11 and is something special about our team…their willingness across the board to be unselfish and set each other up which is exactly what happened with the first and second goals.”
Then with just 1:05 left to half, Roling tallied her 70th goal of the season after being set up by Aikey and WSR had a two-goal advantage at halftime.
Hansel said that the momentum shifted after Roling’s goal right before the half, and the Tigers players sensed that at halftime.
Hansel and assistant coach Tracy Small didn’t say much during the intermission. In fact, it was the seniors who were the most vocal.
They encouraged their teammates to forget about giving up the three goals, and pretend that the match was tied.
The seniors simply didn’t want their season to end on Wednesday, which it did.
“They didn’t want it to be their last game,” Hansel said. “We just let them talk and let them sort it out. I just talked to them, tactically, we just had to get our lines tighter.”
Hansel thought the three lines — forwards, midfielders and defensive — were all far apart. The Tigers gave the Go-Hawks too much room to work in the middle.
Hansel wanted the midfielders to get in step with the ball, and he thought that would conserve some energy.
“It was too hard to do,” Hansel said. “Before the game, we play a four-back defense, and we wanted to have someone sit behind and in front of Roling. We had some lapses where we lost track of her. She found someone else, and they finished. She found her teammates pretty well, too.”
The Go-Hawks handed the Tigers their first loss to an Iowa team since April 30, and that came against Dowling Catholic.
Spencer also saw its seven-match winning streak end. In that stretch, the Tigers outscored their opponents 73-1, and that included a 20-0 win over Sheldon/Sibley-Ocheyedan’s co-op team.
Johnson led the Tigers with 54 goals, followed by Moser’s 34, adding the one she scored Wednesday.
Both girls are juniors.
The Tigers returned home with a second semi finalist trophy, and Hansel hoped that it would serve as a motivator throughout the offseason.
“Hopefully we can get to that championship game,” Hansel said. “We always have youth coming up. We played two freshmen today, and I think there’s always that potential. I didn’t know going into this season that the girls would do what they did.”
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier sportswriter Jim Nelson also contributed to this story.
To see a photo gallery from Wednesday's match, go to siouxcityjournal.com.
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