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Rebels clubbed by Cubs

June 11, 2017
Ross Thede - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

NEVADA - The opponent demanded more of the Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck girls' soccer team than the Rebels had to give.

In order to defeat fifth-ranked Nevada, the Rebels needed to able to bridge the gap between a rock-solid defense and its transition offense, but the host Cubs made both more difficult than GC/G-R could atone for.

Madison Stevens scored twice in the first half, Abby Stephenson notched her single-season school-record 33rd goal in between, and an additional second-half tally crowned Nevada as the Class 1A Region 4 champion.

Article Photos

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck sophomore midfielder Sydney Mathews (8) attempts to play the ball back over her head while being pressured by Nevada’s Mikayla Long during the first half of Monday’s Class 1A Region 4 final in Nevada. The fifth-ranked host Cubs defeated the Rebels, 4-0, to advance to the state tournament for the sixth year in a row.
Photo by Ross Thede

It marks the sixth-straight state tournament berth for the Cubs (13-4), who recorded their fourth consecutive shutout victory Monday with a dominant performance at both ends of the pitch.

"We knew fundamentally they were going to be pretty sound," said GC/G-R head coach Aaron Mara. "We knew they weren't going to make too many mistakes."

The Cubs instead capitalized on a pair of early Rebel defensive miscues, catching flat-footed defenders chasing the pass instead of their mark. Nevada attackers got behind the Rebel defense for two of their three first-half goals and again for an unneeded insurance goal in the second half.

Stevens' strong right-footed strike from 20 yards out gave Nevada the early 1-0 lead, coming less than seven minutes into the match, but Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck countered. Sophomore forward Madison McMartin, whose penalty kick goal got the Rebels (9-10) past Iowa Falls-Alden in the regional semifinals, came up with a pair of quality scoring chances after the Cubs went in front.

McMartin outmaneuvered a pair of Nevada defenders to clear shooting lanes in the ninth and 16th minutes, but the first attempt sailed wide left and the second missed just outside the right post.

"We kind of figured we could get the ball up pretty quickly," Mara said. "We've been preaching the last couple days about transition, transition, transition. We just didn't do a great job transitioning tonight. When we did get the ball up to our forwards, we just didn't have the support there. And ultimately that can cost you."

Moments after GC/G-R had missed out on a second golden opportunity, Nevada had notched another goal. Stephenson, who will play next year at Drake University, gathered a long lead pass after a GC/G-R defender fanned on a clearing attempt. Stephenson outran another Rebel defender to collect the loose ball, dribbled to her strong foot and fired a shot past goalkeeper Carsen Hamann as she came off her line to challenge.

Already in front 2-0, Nevada tacked on an additional goal in the first half, and it was the exact manner in which the Rebels had prepared for the Cubs to attack. Forward Hattie Rhodes collected the give-and-go pass from Stevens and returned the ball to her on the run behind the GC/G-R defense. Her strike was true, sending the Cubs to a 3-0 lead with 5:58 remaining before intermission.

"We had heard they were going to target [number] 27 (Rhodes) and she was going to filter the ball left or right for whoever," said Mara. "We just can't bite on whatever is going on in front of us. Obviously in the first half it bit us a couple times, they had a couple opportunities and we had to try to make adjustments as we go."

The Rebels held Nevada to half as many shot attempts in the second half as in the first, but the offensive chances for GC/G-R were almost non-existent. Not until the final minute did Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck get a clean shot on goal, but Rachel Cooley's bending right-footer off a free kick from about 25 yards away curved around the wall of Nevada defenders but into the awaiting arms of goalkeeper Grace Francis.

GC/G-R finished with five shot attempts to Nevada's 16. Francis needed to make just the one save for the Cubs' fourth-straight shutout, while Hamann handled seven saves on 11 shots on goal.

Rebel midfielders Sydney Mathews and Haleigh Steding both left the match with second-half injuries, limiting GC/G-R's chances of counterattacking against Nevada's fluid offense.

"Offensively we've been kind of progressing the last few weeks and we knew if we were going to make any noise, we were going to have to make it on the outside and work the ball outside-in like we've been trying to do most of the year," said Mara. "But we knew they were going to drop like seven, eight, nine players back right away, so if we're not connecting passes and doing what we needed to do it was going to be a tough game."

GC/G-R entered the regional final having won three of its previous four matches, save for a 3-0 shutout loss at Denver. Those same Cyclones will meet Nevada in Thursday's opening round at the state tournament at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.

The Rebels will return all but three seniors for next year's squad. Defender Kat Wild, reserve Katie Cole and Steding served their program well, Mara said.

"The seniors are a big part of this team. They helped out a lot the last few years, especially with such a young team," said Mara. "I know the youngsters have learned a lot from them and hopefully can keep building on this year after year."

Nevada 4, Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck 0

At Nevada

First Half

NEV - Madison Stevens, 6:41.

NEV - Abby Stephenson, 22:15.

NEV - Stevens (Hattie Rhodes), 34:02.

Second Half

NEV - Rhodes (Meredith Harter), 64:33.

Shots - NEV 16, GCGR 5.

Shots on Goal - NEV 11, GCGR 1.

Goalkeepers - NEV: Grace Francis (1 shot on goal-1 save); GCGR: Carsen Hamann (11-7).

Fouls - NEV 5, GCGR 5.

Corner Kicks - NEV 5.



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