Sixth-ranked Warriors too much for MHS

WAUKEE – The Waukee girls’ soccer team possesses the ball to the point of boredom at times.

But when the offense decides to turn it on and make a play at the goal, the Class 3A No. 6 Warriors are pretty tough to stop.

Senior Alyssa Hewitt had a hand in all five of the Warriors’ goals Wednesday as she recorded a hat trick and added two assists during a 5-0 win over Marshalltown in the 3A Region 4 semifinals at Waukee Stadium. It was the ninth shutout victory this season for the Warriors and their fourth straight.

Hewitt put the Warriors up 2-0 in the first 12 minutes and then showed her passing ability early in the second half before adding one final tally with 18 minutes to go and Waukee advanced to yet another regional final.

“We work on possession, and we want the opponent to move and move and move until they can’t move anymore and that starts to open up our opportunities,” said Waukee coach Tony Gabriel. “We really like to capitalize on our opportunities, and we were able to do a good job of that today.”

Waukee doesn’t care how many passes it has to make. The Warriors will even send the ball 20 yards backwards if it will eventually open up seams, mismatches and openings at the offensive end.

That style of play resulted in a 15-7 advantage in shots, a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal and a 4-1 surplus in corner kicks.

Hewitt’s first tally came off a corner kick set up by Ellie Cavanaugh just 6 1/2 minutes into the match. The Wartburg College bound senior wasted little time in challenging the Bobcat defense and she beat keeper Amanda Hughes in a near 1-on-1 situation and then she added a second goal 4 1/2 minutes later.

Waukee led by that same margin at halftime but went about 40 minutes of game time without adding to its lead.

That changed though in the 53rd minute when Cavanaugh scored her 11th goal of the season off a nice pass from Hewitt. Cavanaugh’s 12th tally came about 3 minutes later and Hewitt again delivered the assist to put the Warriors, who are trying to advance to their fourth straight state tournament, up 4-0.

“It’s a discipline that’s not easy to learn,” said Gabriel about Waukee’s methodical offense. “Even the goalkeeper having the ball is possession to us. It is all about getting the opponents to chase the ball and getting more opportunities for us.”

Hewitt came into the match with a team-high 15 goals and 10 assists but added significant improvements to those numbers against Marshalltown (9-7).

“She is a big time player. She is a major scoring threat and plays like a machine – there is just no off button with her,” said Gabriel.

The Bobcats were coming off their biggest win of the season Monday when they knocked off Southeast Polk 2-1 in a shootout. They guaranteed themselves a winning record after that win, but Marshalltown couldn’t figure out the best way to grab momentum and take the Warriors (15-3) out of rhythm.

“I thought we did a good job of letting the game come to us, but we needed to step harder when the ball got close to the goal,” said Osmundson. “We needed to win the ball when it was close the net.

“I thought we could have kept possession of the ball better when we did win the balls because they don’t play a high-pressure defense. They defend how they play offense. They don’t step hard to you, so I thought we gave up the ball a little too easy and should have been more aggressive.”

That same Southeast Polk squad that lost to Marshalltown on Monday will be the last obstacle in Waukee’s way of a fourth straight state tournament berth.

The Warriors shut out the Rams (9-9), 5-0, last Friday. Monday’s regional final will kick off at 6 p.m. from Waukee Stadium.

Waukee will take a four-match win streak into the regional final and the Warriors have claimed wins in eight of their last 10 games.

Marshalltown, on the other hand, continues to make progress under Osmundson, a Marshalltown graduate who finished her third year as head coach.

The Bobcats’ outgoing seniors finalized careers that included 19 wins the past two years after just three wins in Osmundson’s first season. Marshalltown also went unbeaten at Leonard Cole Field.

“I am proud of the girls. The seniors have been here for four years and they helped us win 19 games in two years and that is big,” Osmundson said. “We didn’t have too many wins my first year. The program is improving and we’ll keep getting better.”

Notebook

Waukee reached the Class 2A state championship match in 2011 and lost to Ankeny in the 3A semifinals in each of the last two seasons. The Warriors have played in seven state tournaments in all. “They are one of the best teams in the state,” said Osmundson. “I think they’ll make it to state and will probably do well there. Six of Marshalltown’s seven losses this season have been by shutout. Hughes took the loss in net for the Bobcats, while Waukee senior Miranda Hunzeker recorded the win and had three saves.