DES MOINES — A-D-M threw all it had at top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier on June 6, but came up short in a 4-1 defeat.
It was the Tigers’ second state-tournament quarterfinal loss to Xavier in as many seasons. The Saints went on to win their eighth consecutive state championship.
"We worked them really hard these past weeks because when we found out that we were probably going to end up eighth in the rankings, we knew who we were going to face again," coach Al Hofmann said. "So if we weren’t going to beat them in terms of skill level, we were sure going to beat them to the ball."
The Tigers had a handful of scoring chances early in the first half but couldn’t find the back of the net. Megan Burditt’s shot 55 seconds into the match bounded off the crossbar and a subsequent corner kick was cleared, and a direct free kick in the 11th minute from Natalie Harada sailed just over the net.
"We had opportunities early in the game, we just couldn’t capitalize on them," Hofmann said.
A-D-M was highly effective in shutting down Xavier star Kayla Armstrong, who finished her senior season with 48 goals and scored at least once in all 20 matches. One player — usually Emily Hofmann — trailed her all game, and save for a goal in the closing seconds, kept the state’s second-leader scorer in check.
But that opened up opportunities for other players. The Saints scored twice in the first half off of corners and held a 2-0 advantage at halftime.
"I’m concerned, but we were here last year and came back and made it a game at the end," Hofmann told his players at halftime.
Xavier scored again minutes into the second half, and A-D-M answered in the 56th minute. Madi Bertman fired her second shot on goal in 2 minutes. It was stopped, but dropped, by goalkeeper Sarah Chicchelly, and Emily Hofmann was right there to tap it into the net.
The goal gave the Tigers new life, much like in the teams’ 2012 matchup, when a second-half goal by Hofmann pulled the Tigers back into the game. They mounted several more attacks this time around, but couldn’t pull any closer.
Xavier kept Tiger goalkeeper Mallory Schultze busy. Schultze, one of 11 seniors on the team, made a season-high 20 saves, the most in a game since she recorded 22 in the 2012 quarterfinal against Xavier.
The Tigers became the first girls’ team at the school to reach three consecutive state tournaments since the 1970s, and finished with a 12-7 record this season. Six of their seven losses were to state qualifiers.
"The reality of what we’ve accomplished will not set in for these girls for a number of years," Al Hofmann said.
Besides Burditt, Harada and Schultze, the Tigers will also say goodbye to Lauren Hofmann, Claire Kinley, Danielle Sullivan, Liz Evers, Jessica Wilson, Rachel Blair, Kelsey Hofmann and Nikki Corkrean. The senior class made an impact at every position on the field, and helped the Tigers to 43 victories over the past three seasons.
"It was just fun to coach them," said Al Hofmann, who had coached all 11 at various times since they were 7 years old. "These kids just wanted to play soccer and play together, and that’s the most important thing.
"When you can go out and enjoy the experience as a coach, and mold in a small way their future, that’s satisfaction enough for me."