Tournament time has arrived for the Mid-Prairie girls soccer team and It was the battle of the birds of the same variety this past week when the Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks clashed with the Central Lee …
Tournament time has arrived for the Mid-Prairie girls soccer team and It was the battle of the birds of the same variety this past week when the Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks clashed with the Central Lee Hawks in a Class 1A regional quarterfinal match on May 17.
This was a defense oriented playoff game with only one goal scored between these two bird affiliated teams, but that goal was scored by Mid-Prairie, who emerged victorious in this postseason game, 1-0. This was Mid-Prairie’s seventh shutout win of the year.
With this win the Golden Hawks improved its record to 11-6 and are able to continue its season in the next round of the playoffs. With this loss Central Lee’s season came to an end with a 7-6 record.
After about 20 minutes of play where both team’s defense would defend their goal well enough to not get scored on but the chance on offense Mid-Prairie was waiting for finally occurred.
Mid-Prairie freshman Elise Gingerich would send a pass past the Central Lee defense to her teammate, junior Emily Curtiss. After catching up with the ball Curtiss would sprint towards the goal and place the ball into the net with a splendid kick with 21 minutes left in the first half to give the Golden Hawks a 1-0 lead, a lead they would never relinquish. This was Curtiss’ seventh goal of the season.
In the second half the Golden Hawks had a great opportunity to put the game farther out of reach after a Central Lee player committed a foul near their own goal, giving the Golden Hawks a penalty kick with 33:26 left to go in the game.
The second leading scorer for the Golden Hawks on the year, senior Sophia Baker, would take the PK. Baker kicked the ball to her right but the Central Lee goalie was able to dive and make the save, blocking the ball out of bounds, resulting in a Mid-Prairie corner kick.
Fortunately Mid-Prairie’s defense played well enough for the miss-opportunity on the PK to not come back to bite them.
A big reason Mid-Prairie never let go of its 1-0 lead was its defense consisting of sophomore Lydia Beachy, sophomore Kyla Karnes, freshman Meadow Flynn, sophomore Morgan Nafziger, junior Evangeline Marner, and Curtiss shut down the Central Lee offense at every turn.
‘It’s always the first five minutes after a goal where you need to stay locked in,” Marner told KCII after the game. “Make sure you’re focused on keeping the defense because anything can happen. The other team has motivation to come right back at us.”
Mid-Prairie won this all-important playoff game without its leading scorer of the season, senior Amara Jones, who had State Track and Field obligations. With such an important piece of its offensive unavailable it’s no wonder the Golden Hawks relied on such a defensive approach in this game.
Another large piece to the Mid-Prairie defensive puzzle was its goalkeeper, freshman Niva Helmuth and her 18 saves on the day. This was the first game in Helmuth’s high school career where she finished with a clean sheet, giving up zero goals, while playing the whole game as the goalie.
“I would say yes, there’s definitely more pressure (tonight),” Helmuth told KCII after the playoff win. “We just stayed really sharp, really focused, kept our heads in the game and that helped us a lot.”
Galvanized from its first round playoff victory, Mid-Prairie (11-6) traveled to Van Meter to take on the top-seeded Van Meter Bulldogs (10-3) in a Region 3 semi final post-season match on May 23.
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