Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – In the first two matches of the season sophomores Natalie Gahan and Taylor Bartee played a supporting role to returning Regina superstar forward Grace Gaarde.
With Gaarde out of the lineup on Monday the sophomore understudies made the most of their time in the spotlight.
Gahan scored two goals and had an assist on a Bartee goal to lead Class 1A No. 11 Regina to a 4-2 win over Bellevue in a River Valley Conference match in Iowa City.
“I challenged them before the game, I said, ‘who usually takes most of the shots’,” Regina coach Anne Larew said. “They said ‘Grace’ and I asked, ‘where is Grace today?’ and they said, ‘she’s not here’. They were the ones that were going to have to take the shots and they can do it and they just had to see it and today they did it.”
Gaarde has been among the productive goal scorers in the state over the past three seasons accounting for 58 of the Regals 102 total goals in 2021 and 2022.
This season Gaarde had scored five of seven Regina goals during a 1-1 start to the season.
With Gaarde gone on a senior trip on Monday it was sophomores Gahan and Bartee that stepped into the scoring role.
Gaarde double her season total with two goals on Monday while Bartee scored her second goal of the season as Regina improved to 2-1 with its second consecutive win.
“I think it went pretty well, we all helped each other,” Gahan said. “We had people playing new positions and I think we all helped each other and it was good.”
Gahan got Regina on the board before the midway point of the opening half when she scored of an assist from freshman Caitlyn Bell in the 18th minute.
“It was a great pass by Caitlyn she placed it perfectly,” Gahan said. “I just realized it was right there so I took my shot.”
Gahan fed Bartee for a goal that gave Regina a 2-0 lead with 7:10 remaining in the first half.
Regina took a 2-0 lead into the half after senior keeper Courtney Kessler came up with a save of a Kalesia DeShaw penalty kick in the 35th minute.
“We’ve definitely played as a team more and I think our team chemistry has gotten a lot better,” Regina sophomore defender Ella McLaughlin said. “We all trust each other and trust how we play and we just want to get it done.”
Gahan gave Regina a 3-0 lead with her second goal of the match with 33:40 remaining.
“We are definitely talking and communicating better,” Gahan said. “We’re connecting passes, playing from the back and I think we are playing really well as a team.”
Ka’Lynn DeShaw scored twice in the final 16:40 for Bellevue which dropped to 1-2 with the loss.
Regina senior Saffron McNamara added a second-half goal for the Regals which have outscored opponents 9-2 after a season-opening loss to sixth-ranked Solon.
“We have some young people playing up at the top and to be able to place some of the balls that they did that led to the shots I was very proud of how they played together,” Larew said. “I think that if they see how they can play then they think they can do better but now they have the foundation of knowing what they can do now they just need to work on the details but they see it is there and they can do it.”