Six years worth of conference soccer games in the books, and six straight years worth of conference wins for the ADM girls soccer team which became official after defeating Carlisle Monday, May 13 in Adel.
In their 4-2 victory over the Wildcats, ADM collected their 46th consecutive conference victory dating back to six years ago and with it, the Tigers collected their sixth straight Raccoon River Conference title. It was a conference title that shared similarities with the past five crowns but as head coach, Kelsey Dolder spoke about after the game, it was as unique as any other championship that has ever been.
“A lot went into winning conference this year,” began Dolder. “From all the defensive question marks surrounding this team before the season began to where they are now, the girls have gone through some unique challenges. We had to fight through some inexperience early and get our legs about us which makes it hard to be successful but once we were able to find our rhythm the inexperience wasn’t much of a factor anymore.”
The conference crown did not come easy as the Tigers had to overcome two separate instances where Carlisle stormed back to equalize the game and take back momentum. It was perhaps the most defensively challenging contest that ever ended up with six or more goals combined in a contest, something which coach Dolder spoke about as the most challenging aspect of the game.
“They really did a good job of utilizing a strong defensive game and then transitioning smoothly to offense before we could catch up,” began Dolder. “Hats off to their goalkeeper as we had plenty of chances to break the game wide open but just couldn’t because of her. Their defense kept us off our game for stretches of the game and because of that we had such a close game.”
There were many big highlights that led to the win and the conference title. Multi-sport junior Josi Lonneman opened up the contest with a goal to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead from distance. That was then matched by Carlisle to equalize the contest at 1-1 before Ashlyn Watt would deposit her 18th goal of the season to regain the lead 2-1. All that would occur within the first ten minutes of action which was then followed by another equalizing goal by the Wildcats to even out the game at 2-2. That’s how the contest would find itself at come the halftime break.
The biggest highlight of them all came from sophomore standout Abby Gonzalez who put ADM ahead for good and strongly aided in the win with a pair of goals in the second half. After ADM dodged a bullet when a Carlisle goal was called back due to off-sides, Gonzalez struck with 27:42 left in regulation to give the Tigers their third lead of the game. That goal came courtesy of a big night from Ashlyn Watt as well who followed up her one goal scored with two assists on the night.
The second goal scored by Gonzalez would end up sealing the deal for the Tigers when freshman Shae Bernhardt found the sophomore with under three minutes left to increase the lead to a 4-2 mark which would eventually stand for the win. It was quite an overall performance by ADM but the performance put forth by Gonzalez was instrumental in capturing the win and the conference crown, something the sophomore spoke about after the contest.
“It felt really good tonight, I’m really proud of myself. It’s an amazing feeling to have and I won’t forget how this feels,” started Gonzalez. “Of course I can’t go without recognizing my teammates who set up those goals for me because, without them, I wouldn’t have been able to score those two goals.”
Coach Dolder expanded on the performance of Gonzalez, adding in a team nickname.
“We like to call her the mosquito because she just pesters opponents all game long and she did that here tonight,” began Dolder. “That led to some pretty good scoring opportunities which she set herself up for success with. She didn’t overdo anything and just stayed within her means and that helped lead to her two goals.”
The Tigers once again walk away as the top team in the Raccoon River Conference and one of just four teams in Class 2A with at least one loss or less. The win gives ADM their tenth consecutive victory and a 14-1 overall record on the season. The Tigers will have one chance left to improve that win total within the regular season as they host Class 3A’s Indianola on Thursday, May 16.