GRIMES – A magical regular season run by the Nevada girls’ soccer team was completed with a 2-1 victory over Dallas Center-Grimes Friday.
Nevada capped off its first-ever unbeaten run through the regular season. The Cubs will take a 17-0 record into Class 1A regional play beginning with the semifinals this Friday in Nevada.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” Nevada senior forward Jessica Helton said. “It’s great we could do this for Nevada for the first time ever.”
The 17-0 record is tied with Linn-Mar for the best in the state. Nevada and Linn-Mar were the only teams to go through the regular season without a single blemish.
The impressive run resulted in Nevada finishing the regular season ranked No. 2 in 1A – its best finish ever. It is quite the accomplishment considering Nevada had to retool its back four on defense and overcome the loss of talented senior forward Elli Cassabaum late in the season due to an ACL injury.
Junior Mara Rhodes moved into the sweeper spot this season in place of all-state performer Danielle Thomsen after playing forward her first two years. Freshman Kaylee Kruschwitz took over at charger for talented long-time varsity contributor Amber Ramthun.
“I was playing sweeper when I was younger, and when I got to high school they moved me to forward,” Rhodes said. “I played sweeper in the offseason and I really missed it, so I thought I might give it a try and it kind of worked out. Our team chemistry is working really well – it’s really exciting.”
The play of Rhodes, Kruschwitz and veteran fullbacks Raegan Saunders and Kaylee Kruschwitz in the back four along with all-state keeper Clara Sporrer has produced 12 shutouts. Nevada only allowed more than one goal once all season.
Strong play at midfield has helped Nevada excel on both ends of the field. Veteran junior Michaela Matuska is the leader of the Cub midfield, but she says her job has been fairly easy with all the talent Nevada puts on the field.
“I do tell people where to go sometimes, but they all pretty much know where to go themselves,” Matuska said. “We all work together and like Mara said, our team chemistry is really good.”
At forward Nevada was dealt a major blow when Cassabaum went down after 12 games. But the play of speedy freshman Abby Stephenson, along with Helton, Matuska and sophomores Kati Cassabaum and Erin Sellberg, has enabled Nevada to make up for Elli’s absence.
“Our goal this season is to win state for her,” Matuska said. “Next year we’ll win state with her.”
Stephenson leads Nevada with 18 goals. Helton has netted 17, Sellberg and Kati nine apiece and Matuska seven. Stephenson and Helton also lead Nevada in assists with 10 and nine respectively and Kati and Matuska have dished out six apiece.
On Friday, against a DCG team ranked No. 4 in 2A, Nevada relied on its defense for a half then struck with two quick goals early in the second half to take control.
Stephenson scored off a 25-yard direct kick just two minutes into the half and Matuska followed with a goal three minutes later.
The stout Cub defense took care of the rest as DCG’s only goal came with less than three minutes left in regulation.
Nevada will turn its quest from an unbeaten regular season to a state championship on Friday, when the Cubs begin the postseason. Nevada faces either Aplington-Parkersburg/Grundy Center or Iowa Falls-Alden in the 1A regional semifinals at 6 p.m. in Nevada.
FORT DODGE – Nevada had little trouble with Fort Dodge May 29 in Fort Dodge as the Cubs handled the larger school by a 3-1 score to earn its 16th win in a row.
Kati Cassabaum, Mara Rhodes and Abby Stephenson each netted one unassisted goal for Nevada in the win. The Cubs totaled 12 shots and allowed 11.
Keeper Clara Sporrer made five saves. Iris Peimann netted Fort Dodge’s only goal.