NEVADA – The challenges keep getting tougher, but the wins keep coming for the Nevada girls’ soccer program.
Nevada – ranked No. 3 in Class 1A – knocked off two top-five opponents at the Nevada Invitational Saturday to remain undefeated on the season.
After easily disposing of Ottumwa in the opening round, the Cubs won an exciting and exhausting sudden death shootout over Waverly-Shell Rock in the semifinals. Nevada then downed Columbus Catholic of Waterloo in the championship game to improve to 10-0 on a windy day at the SCORE Athletic Complex.
“Our team is so strong,” Nevada forward Elli Cassabaum said. “Even when we were down, such as earlier in the season in the Ames game, we came back. It’s just been a really good team effort and everyone gets along. It feels awesome.”
Nevada pulled off a 2-0 victory over Columbus Catholic in the championship game. With the exception of a brief period to start the second half, the Cubs were in complete control versus a Knight team ranked No. 4 in 1A.
Cassabaum scored a goal off a breakaway in the opening 10 minutes of play to give the Cubs the edge, and they kept up the pressure the rest of the way.
“Coach (Randy Davis) said to get one in early,” Cassabaum said. “Personally, I had a lot of one-on-one’s with the goalies today and missed a bunch of them, so that goal felt especially good to me.”
The score remained 1-0 going into the second half. Columbus Catholic had a couple of good scoring chances in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Knights couldn’t convert against a tough Cub defense.
Abby Stephenson had a direct kick go off the top bar midway through the half, but she got another good look toward the end of regulation and made the most of it to ice the game. Stephenson outraced the Knight defense on the right side of the field and then kicked a hard, low cross shot that found its way past the Columbus Catholic keeper and into the far corner of the net.
“I just saw my opportunity and took it,” Stephenson said. “I saw where their goalie was positioned and knew exactly where to strike the ball and I got it in there. That gave us a good cushion and then we could run out the clock.”
The real excitement for Nevada came in the semifinals against a Waverly-Shell Rock squad rated No. 5 in 2A. Regulation and overtime yielded a scoreless tie as Nevada was unable to take advantage of several scoring chances.
In the shootout Nevada took control early, but the Cubs were unable to get two of their final three shots to go in the net, forcing sudden death. The sudden death into a fourth round and appeared it wasn’t going to end.
The game wasn’t decided until the 17th penalty kick.
With the regular starting lineup and top reserves already having shot, Davis had to turn to sophomore midfielder Ally West during the fourth round of penalty kicks. West came in and delivered a huge clutch shot to put Nevada on top.
“Ally was cold off the bench,” Davis said. “But she put it in right away.”
Keeper Clara Sporrer then clinched the victory by stopping Waverly-Shell Rock’s next attempt. Sporrer was the hero of the shootout – making an impressive five stops.
“Clara made all state last year – she’s one of the top keepers in the state,” Davis said. “It really helps to have her, especially on a day like today with the wind where anything can happen. Our whole defense is really doing a great job.”
In the first shootout, Kati Cassabaum and Raegan Saunders both converted a penalty kick for Nevada. Erin Sellberg, Abby Bremer, Michaela Matuska and Kaylee Kruschwitz each scored in the second shootout.
The third shootout saw the Cassabaum sisters both convert, as well as Stephenson and Mara Rhodes. In the fourth shootout, Sellberg found the back of the net and then West connected on the game winner.
“We looked at the tournament schedule and said if we can come out with one win we will be happy,” Davis said. “Two would be good and three is great. We’re happy to keep plugging away one game at a time.”
Nevada whipped Ottumwa by a 10-0 score in its opening game of the tournament. Stephenson put on a show for Nevada in the victory as she netted a stunning five goals.
Elli put two goals on the board and Matuska, Jessica Helton and Skye Borton each netted one apiece versus Ottumwa. Sellberg dished out two assists and Helton, Borton, Kati Cassabaum, Abby Bremer, Emma Lodestein and Sydney See each handed out one in the lopsided victory.