Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Emma Cooper considers herself a pretty deep thinker. A 4.0 grade point average in high school and plans to pursue a career in engineering or science support that claim.
On Thursday, the Cooper only had one thought on her mind.
“Redemption,” Cooper said. “That's all I was thinking.”
Cooper got her redemption and West High got a win because of it.
Minutes after she had a potential game-winning penalty pick denied, Cooper scored on a breakaway with 2:40 left in overtime to give second-ranked West High a 1-0 win over No. 12 West Des Moines Dowling (12-6) in a Class 3A state quarterfinal at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
“She took that penalty kick and the keeper came up with a great save and I thought ‘o.k. Emma you need to be the one to score the goal’,” West High coach Dave Rosenthal said. “You need to get over the hump and get yourself on track and fortunately that’s the way it happened, I think that’s great for Emma.”
The win was the seventh straight for West High (19-1) and sent the Women of Troy back to the 3A semifinals for the third straight season where they will face No. 4 Ames (15-3) at 5:15 on Friday.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since a 1-0 win by West High in the 2015 stat title game.
“We were so hyped and we wanted this game so badly especially since the last time we played Dowling it was the state championship,” Cooper said. “Dowling put up a good fight and they were a really good team to play but I think we just wanted it more.”
After a slow start for both teams offensively, West High controlled the final 10 minutes of the first half and put together a pair of scoring opportunities but came up empty on both.
Dowling keeper Sally Gaul tipped a Cooper shot over the cross bar in the 29th minute and made a diving save of a Leah Rhodes header on the ensuing West High corner kick.
“I think we were uncomfortable in the first half and I was a little surprised by that,” Rosenthal said. “That’s not something that we typically have in the tournament.”
The second half was all West High but the Women of Troy couldn’t break through.
Chances and eventually frustration continued to mount as the second half went on scoreless.
Gaul stopped Steigleder on a breakaway in the 44th minute and Cooper sailed a shot hit from inside eight yards in the 50th minute.
“That’s frustrating and hopefully we will clean up our execution tomorrow,” Cooper said. “I was proud of us for being able to break down the defense and being able to do the hard work we just have to improve the technical stuff.”
Dowling had its best chance of the game in the 54th minute but couldn’t convert as Greta Gyldenvand banged a shot off the post.
“The moment she kicked it I thought it was out and when it went past me I thought it was going in,” West High senior keeper Katie McGrane said. “I am so lucky that it hit the post because that was a great shot that I did not defend very well.”
West High had one final chance to end the match in regulation but Steigleder had a shot carom off the cross bar with 10 seconds left.
It looked like it would be over quickly in overtime when Leah Rhodes was fouled in the box 62 seconds into the 10-minute overtime setting up a penalty kick for Cooper.
However, Gaul came up with a diving save to keep the match scoreless.
“I don’t know what the conversation was after the penalty kick but I thought she was going to score,” Rosenthal said. ““She had her opportunities today and Emma stepped up.”
Cooper ended the match just more than six minutes later when she finally beat Gaul on a breakaway with 2:40 left.
Streaking down the left side of the field Cooper slipped a shot past Gaul into the lower corner of the goal to set off a wild celebration and get a little redemption.
It was the 27th goal of the season for the Michigan recruit, which ranks third in 3A.
“All that was going through my mind was missing that pk and how I couldn’t miss again and keep my pride,” Cooper said. “Thank god I made it.”
McGrane posted the shutout in goal for West High as the Women of Troy returned to the semifinals.
“It was very stressful to keep seeing my teammates have opportunity after opportunity after opportunity and none of them were going,” McGrane said. “My back line did a great job of protecting me so the few shots I did have I just really locked in my focus.”