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Girls Soccer: Linn-Mar Earns Trip Back To State

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MARION, Iowa — Through all of the cold and wet matches Linn-Mar has experienced this season, one thing was on their mind. Earning a trip back to the state tournament was the ultimate goal.

The Lions did just that Monday night when they defeated Cedar Falls, 5-2 in the regional final at Linn-Mar Stadium. The Tigers —who had lost to the Lions, 2-0 on April 8— opened up an early 1-0 lead after a goal by Mariam Bartlett nine minutes into the match.

"She's very good," said Linn-Mar sophomore Olivia Garcia. "And we all knew we had to keep man-marked and we couldn't let her get the ball. I feel like they kept it tight and their momentum was high. They wanted it as much as we wanted it."

Five minutes after Bartlett's score, Garcia put in a goal of her own to even the score at 1-1. Still tied at halftime 2-2, Linn-Mar Coach Steve Dickinson knew Cedar Falls had made effective adjustments since the two team's previous matchup and were taking advantage of them.

"We knew going in that they are a fabulous restart team on their corners and their free kicks and you could see that," Dickinson said. "They got loose a couple times and did what they know how to do and that's put the ball in the back of the net."

At the 51-minute mark, however, Linn-Mar took its first lead on a goal by sophomore Jensen Sevening and never looked back. Sevening felt like her goal that gave the Lions a 3-2 edge was exactly what the team needed at that moment and her team began to correct what was difficult for them from the first half.

"I think they came out with a lot of pressure, which was tough to handle," Sevening said. "With the balls bouncing so much it's tough to settle them down and then play it while someone is running at you. I think by the second half we gained our composure and handled the ball better."

Linn-Mar would tack on two more goals by sophomore Kayla Kvach at 66 minutes and Garcia at 75 minutes to seal the 5-2 victory. The Lions will now have a few days off before making their state tournament appearance Thursday in Des Moines.

The Lions qualified for state last year, but lost in the first round to Ankeny, 2-0. It was a feeling that Garcia certainly doesn't want to feel again this year.

"We really wanted this from the beginning of the season," Garcia said. "It was our goal to go to state and this time we want to not just go and lose in the first round, but win it all."

In a Class 2A regional final matchup between Decorah and Pleasant Valley at Linn-Mar Stadium, Spartan senior Bekah Allen helped Pleasant Valley cruise into the state tournament with a 5-1 win to advance to the state tournament beginning Thursday.

Sophomore Addie Royer got things started for the Spartans with a goal 11 minutes into the contest with Allen scoring a goal for herself at the 33 minute mark to end first half scoring.

It was all Pleasant Valley in the second half with Royer adding another goal at 50 minutes from an assist by Allen. Senior Stephanie D'Cruz added two goals at 62 and 65 minutes, both coming on assists from Allen. Decorah scored its lone goal with six minutes left by senior Abby Arend.

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