Solon sinks G-R’s state hopes
SOLON – Anna Seydel was certain her shot wasn’t going in.
And with the way the other 79 minutes played out, you couldn’t blame her.
Netting the game’s only goal in the 44th minute, Seydel sent the eighth-ranked Solon girls soccer team to its first-ever state tournament with a 1-0 win over No. 10 Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the Class 1A Region 6 Final at Spartan Stadium Monday.
The unmarked Spartan captain ripped a right-footer from 25 yards out that ricocheted off Bailea Evenson’s hands and sailed backwards into the net to separate the evenly matched teams.
Seydel never saw her ball go in. She was already heading back on defense.
“I turned around because I thought it wasn’t going in and then everyone was cheering,” Seydel said. “I didn’t even know what happened. That really started the game off for us, after that we just didn’t want to lose.”
Whether it was a lucky roll or a momentary defensive lapse, the Solon senior captain’s goal was the narrow window the Spartans (14-5) needed to squeeze past the Rebels (12-6).
“It’s not even a real goal, it was just kind of an error,” G-R coach Cheryl Pease said. “(Bailea) just had a little bobble and it was just enough.”
It was a rare slip for the junior keeper who made six saves including an impressive denial of Alyssa Stotler on a 1-on-1 situation late in the first.
The Rebels came back stronger from the score and after just four shots in the first half, they fired nine in the second. G-R didn’t get its first shot on goal until 50 seconds remained in the first half when Nicole Adair found a crease. The Spartans applied more pressure in the opening stanza with nine shots and five on target, though Evenson denied each challenge.
G-R created several quality chances for an equalizer.
Solon keeper Katie Silberstein briefly bobbled a low-roller from Hanna Christopher in the 62nd and the Rebels earned a pair of corner kicks four minutes later. Silberstein got a hand on the second one that moved just inches away from Taylor Weida’s right foot on a rebound attempt.
Weida had a header attempt that was barely snuffed out by Silberstein with 8 minutes to play and her next one sailed over the crossbar with 4 minutes remaining. Both opportunities were set up by Kyleah Dugan who Pease moved up from defense late in the second half, but admitted she maybe should have made the change sooner.
Solon had a 19-13 advantage in shots and a 7-4 edge in shots on goal, though the Rebels were far more aggressive in the second half in both their marking and creating offensive chances.
“They played tough. In my mind we still won that match in the sense that we possessed more than they did and pressured the goal more,” Pease said. “We were very evenly matched teams. Solon is a strong team, but I don’t think they’re any stronger.”
Adair, the state’s second leading goal-scorer, saw frequent attention from the Solon defense including double- and triple-teams as she had few opportunities to get a good look at the goal.
“I faced it some (before) but not really that much,” Adair said of the defensive look. “We had the intensity but we just weren’t passing to feet and we couldn’t get it together.”
Solon coach John Tucker said he didn’t draw up any specific plan for Adair but instead harped on fundamental defense with his team.
“We’ve been really working on defense and not necessarily marking up anybody but just playing good solid cover defense,” Tucker said.
“One person covers the ball and other people drop in behind. They really worked hard and executed that well. (Adair) is definitely a threat and I was proud that we were able to shut them down.”
G-R was seeking its first state tourney berth in school history but will get another chance next year as Adair is one of 18 returnees from the roster.
“Over this whole year we improved tremendously,” Adair said. “From the start to the finish, we’re a whole new team. I’m proud of what we did and how far we went.”
Pease reminded her team of their journey this season and didn’t want any heads hanging as they broke their final huddle of the year.
“It’s been a great season,” Pease said, “we just wish we were going one more.”
The Spartans (14-5) advance to the state tournament where they’ll face No. 3 Iowa City Regina (14-4) Thursday at 12:45 p.m. at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines. The Regals previously defeated the Spartans 2-1 on May 27. … All of Solon’s losses have come against ranked foes including 1A No. 3 Regina, No. 5 Davenport Assumption and No. 6 Clear Creek-Amana, along with 3A No. 8 Muscatine and No. 9 Cedar Rapids Prairie.