Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Dave Rosenthal stopped mid-sentence upon hearing his West High girls soccer team has stretched its state tournament streak to 10 consecutive appearances.
“Is that what it’s been?” Rosenthal questioned. “Ten years? Wow.”
West High became the first 3A program in state history to reach the state tournament for a decade straight with a 4-1 win over Cedar Rapids Prairie in the Class 3A, Region 7 title game on Monday at Barker Field in Iowa City.
Defending 3A runner-up West High will face No. 12 West Des Moines Dowling on Thursday in the Class 3A quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“Since a lot of the team was there for our (2015) state title and the title loss last year we just want it every year,” West High senior Lexi Shaffer said. “I think we are a good team this year and we really want to end it with a win.”
Shaffer and fellow seniors Leah Rhodes and Regan Steiglder had goals on Monday as No. 3 West High (18-1) won its sixth straight match.
Rhodes gave West High a lead it would never give up scoring with 11 seconds left in the first half as the Women of Troy defeated Prairie (9-9) for the second time in a little more than a month.
“It was huge,” Rhodes said of the first-half goal. “I was starting to get a little worried because they kept us on our toes and we were playing not as calm as we usually do so it was huge to have that cushion.”
Shaffer, Steigleder and sophomore Rachel Olson added goals in the second half as West High joined Cedar Rapids Xavier, Davenport Assumption and Sioux City Heelan as the only teams with 10-year state tournament streaks.
West High returned just three starters from last year’s squad that fell to Ankeny Centennial 2-1 in the 3A title game.
That hasn’t slowed West High which enters state tournament play the lone team in the 3A field with fewer than two losses.
“We lost eight of our 11 starters from last season and that definitely worried me at the beginning of the season but I’m super proud of how we have played the entire season,” Rhodes said. “We’ve even had some injuries and we’ve just had players step up and fill every spot.”
Two of the returning starters for West High were all-staters Emma Cooper and Steigleder who have combined for 56 goals this season.
Just as they have all year the duo had help on Monday.
Rhodes snapped a scoreless tie with her eighth goal of the season off a Cooper assist that just beat the halftime buzzer.
“I looked back at the clock and there were 18 seconds left and I knew I had to finish it,” Rhodes said. “Luckily I was able to take a touch around the defender and just pass it into the goal.”
Shaffer gave the Women of Troy some cushion when she lofted in a shot from 40 yards out in the 50th minute.
The senior defender lifted a high shot from the West High sideline toward the front post and out of the reach of Prairie keeper McKenna Wilson to put West High up 2-0.
“I saw everyone kind of back post and I saw the goalie was kind of toward the back post too and so I figured I might as well try front post,” Shaffer said. “I don’t get a lot of scoring opportunities but I’ve been working on that shot a lot at practice so I figured I would take a shot and see how it went and it worked out.”
Prairie made things interesting when Taylor Russell scored on a free kick in the 66th minute but West High put the match away with two goals in a span of less than seven minutes.
Steiglder chipped a ball past Wilson a breakaway in the 70th minute and Olson capped the scoring with a breakaway goal of her own in the 76th minute.
“Once we got our first goal they got a little frantic and they got spread out,” Steigleder said. “We were able to take advantage of that a few times.”
In its 10th consecutive trip to state West High will be seeking its third consecutive title game appearance and third title in program history.
“We have to take it one game at a time,” Rosenthal said. “We are only going to plan for the Thursday game, we will look at what we might have on Friday and Saturday but we play a game at time so we will start with the Thursday game and start with that.”