DES MOINES — Two Dubuque Hempstead goals in less than two minutes in the first half doomed Iowa City West’s chances to add a second state title in girls’ soccer. The Mustangs’ 2-0 victory Thursday at Cownie Soccer Park reversed the result from a regular-season game won by West, 1-0.
Hempstead (17-2) will play West Des Moines Dowling in today’s semifinals; the Women of Troy ended their season at 16-4.
“It’s pretty tough. We know what type of team we have,” West Coach Dave Rosenthal said. “We know what type of potential we had this season. Hempstead came out and played very, very hard. ... They battled for everything they had.”
The Mustangs had the wind in the first half, but the Women of Troy made several forays into scoring territory only to come up empty. Then Hempstead struck. Freshman forward Mariah Morris headed in a cross with 20 minutes, 35 seconds left in the first half.
“I think the wind had a little advantage and I kind of curved it in,” Morris said.
One minute, 50 seconds later the Mustangs scored off a free kick, a deflection and a sharply angled boot.
“We got a free kick a little outside the box and slightly off center,” junior Rachel Bybee said. “Calee O’Hare always takes those. She’s got a great leg on her. She sent the ball soaring over and I made my usual run. The goalie got a hand on it and it kicked off her hand. I was just there to finish it up. I kind of turned my body. I didn’t really see the goal, but I kicked it as hard as I could.”
Bybee is the team’s second-leading goal scorer and an experienced player. She was able to score despite being right of the frame at a sharp angle. She said the Mustangs were a different team from the one that lost to West, with different formations and players in different positions.
“I think they overlooked us a little bit and we took advantage,” Bybee said. “We came out really strong.”
“They were pushing, pushing forward and I don’t feel like we were pushing back enough,” Rosenthal said.
The second goal is always big in tournament games despite coaches who preach that a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous.
West was unable to crack the Mustang defense for the remaining 58 minutes. Morris said the Mustangs wanted to “take out” the West mids.
“We were pressuring, pressuring,” Rosenthal said. “We thought if we could get one in the first 15 minutes of the second half it would have been a completely different game. We gave it our best; they just counterpunched.
“They are fast and athletic. What I think we lacked a little bit today was everywhere on the field a little bit more effort.”
Rosenthal saluted his seniors.
“I’ve been coaching for 19 years and there was something incredible about this group,” he said.