After the Waukee boys’ soccer team crowned themselves champions, the Waukee girls’ soccer team set out to do the same Thursday night as they began the girls’ state soccer tournament.
Held on the hallowed grounds of the James Cownie Soccer Complex, the fourth seeded Warrior girls were hungry for a state title and their first road block was fifth seeded Pleasant Valley. In a fantastic display of ball control, the Warriors dispatched a Pleasant Valley team who allowed just four goals against them all season long. Waukee won in easy fashion 3-1.
Waukee initiated the scoring courtesy of freshman Olivia Lovell who knocked in a Grace Terhark missed shot for an early 1-0 lead. Lovell wouldn’t be done there however as the freshman phenom connected on her second goal of the game with just over 15 minutes remaining in the first half. After the game Lovell spoke about her performance and the inspiration behind it.
“It feels great, my body is shaking right now,” began Lovell. “Being a freshman I had my doubts but I just trusted in my team and it helped everything. I was really well rested coming into the game, I came prepared and I came into it ready.”
The Warriors peppered the Pleasant Valley goal keeper in the first half with nine total shots on goal. At the end of the first half two of them stuck, and Waukee was out in front 2-0.
Pleasant Valley’s defense and offense showed life in the second half. With 12 minutes left in regulation, the Spartans connected on a penalty kick to shrink the Warrior lead 2-1. The Warriors themselves took it up a notch and once again peppered the Pleasant Valley goal keeper with ten total shots in the second half. With just under five minutes remaining, Waukee’s leading scorer Allie Williams connected on a runaway goal. That brought the lead to a 3-1 mark and that would remain as the game’s final score.
After the game Warrior head coach Tony Gabriel spoke about his team’s patience and ball control.
“I think we were really calm on the ball,” began Gabriel. “We knew that Pleasant Valley had the ability to score and move up the field so we knew if we possessed the ball more, it would reduce their effectiveness.”
Of course what is ball control without great footwork which is something that Gabriel was quite pleased with from his team.
“Our footwork was really good,” stated Gabriel. “We pride ourselves on the technical skills that we posses and possession is our style, that’s our game.”
Of course with the Warriors they are nowhere close to being done and one of the team’s biggest motivators is a remembrance of last year’s ending.
“Last year we failed to make it to state for the first time since 2010,” began Gabriel. “These girls have been hungry to get back and redeem themselves. The last two state champions didn’t make the state tournament the year prior so we’ve been looking at that as that could be us this year.”
The win grants the Warriors a semi-final match up with conference foe and tournament top seed Ankeny Centennial on Friday. The match up will be held on field nine and will begin at 4 p.m.