By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The natural reaction for a team faced with replacing its top three goal scorers responsible for nearly half its offensive output is to put a heavy focus on finishing.
That is the exact situation City High found itself in this season but head coach Michael Prunty had a different plan.
Actually, it’s the same blueprint Prunty has used in his three seasons building the City High program – defense first, offense second.
“We really haven’t gotten to that part as far as really aggressively training the attacking third, we spend a lot of time being solid in the back and how we progress into that,” Prunty explained. “We haven’t gotten there, the expectation is still that we need to score because we are creating opportunities, but our objective hasn’t really been on that end.”
The graduation of seniors Maddie DePrenger, Delaney Johnson and Ashley Smith left City High without its top three scoring threats from last year’s squad, a trio that combined for 29 goals.
Despite the heavy offensive losses Prunty stayed true to his defensive first mindset and the results have followed.
Eighth-ranked City High opened the season 4-1, posting four shutouts and outscoring opponents 12-2.
“Our goal for every game is we work on five-pass sequences and playing out of the back with Naomi and obviously, shutouts, if we don’t get scored on we can’t lose,” City High sophomore Madeline Pugh said. “We definitely work on defensive stuff more than finishing.”
Even without placing extra attention on offense the new-look Little Hawk attack has had success.
City High has scored at least three goals in each match during a current winning streak.
“That’s probably the biggest change with our team with new players is probably the front end,” Prunty said. “We lost almost all of our goals from last year so trying to figure out new roles and asking players that maybe had a part-time role to be the person and produce is where we are at.”
Senior Sydney Schroder leads City High with four goals while Grace Brown, Pugh and Sydney DePrenger have each scored twice.
Sophomore Sam Schroder has a goal and an assist and senior Sophie Van Meter also has a goal.
“Last year we were used to looking to those seniors that graduated, we could get them the ball and they could run down the sideline and do exactly what we practiced, play it back to the six and there was someone there finishing,” Sam Schroder said. “We have some underclassmen that are getting used to it and we are getting in the rhythm we just haven’t gotten there yet.”
Rest for the Not So Weary: West High got some rest last week after a wild four-game in five-day stretch to open the season.
The rest was well deserved for the third-ranked Women of Troy following a 4-0 first week of the season that featured wins over three ranked teams and Illinois opponent Downers Grove South.
West High (5-0) picked up wins over 3A No. 9 Pleasant Valley and No. 15 Ankeny along with a road win at 2A top-ranked North Scott in the opening week of the season.
Last week West High played just once but was impressive in a 4-0 win over No. 13 Dubuque Hempstead.
The break doesn’t last long for West High as the women of Troy face two more ranked teams this week in No. 6 Cedar Rapids Kennedy and No. 8 City High.
No Defending Durr: No player in the state has been more dangers with the ball the past several seasons than Josie Durr.
The state’s top goal scorer from a year ago is off to an even better start this spring.
Durr led the state with 46 goals last season, averaging 2.3 goals per match.
The Iowa recruit is on pace to eclipse her goal total from a year ago, scoring 20 goals in five matches this season.
Durr has had two matches with five goals and a nine-goal explosion against South Tama to help Solon to a 3-2 start.
More Milestone Moments: Hannah Bormann didn’t waste any time crossing one career milestone of her list this season.
The Clear Creek Amana senior scored four goals in the Clippers season opener to reach 100 goals for her career.
Bormann is closing in on a couple more career achievements.
The Drake signee needs three goals to become the school’s all-time scoring leader and is three assists away from breaking Kelsey Hall’s school record for career assists.
Bormann has nine goals and five assists for fifth-ranked Clear Creek Amana (5-0) this season bring her career totals to 105 goals and 42 assists.