A match-up of two similar styles of play unfolded on the soccer pitch in Muscatine Thursday, with the Pella High girls soccer team coming up on the wrong side of a 2-0 loss to Sioux City East in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals. The Black Raiders seized an early opportunity on a ball that got loose in front of the Pella net and knocked it in on a header just ten minutes into play.
That margin proved to be game-altering, as the Lady Dutch then had the unenviable task of trying to play catch-up against a very stingy Sioux City East defense. Pella High coach Mark Howard said the initial goal really set the tone for the rest of the match.
“Once the other team gets a goal, it changes the whole complexion of the game. All they have to do is control the ball, and that’s pretty much what they did,” said Howard. “I thought they got to the ball better than we did and they possessed the ball better than we did, and that’s why the outcome was the way it was.”
The Raiders added the final score in the 61st minute, and though enough time remained to mount a comeback, the hopes of Pella advancing to the Class 2A State Semifinals began slowly slipping away.
“We had our chances, definitely, and we couldn’t capitalize on them. When you play a good team like Sioux City East, you really have to capitalize on your chances, and we didn’t do a very good job of that,” added Howard. “I did talk to the girls about that a little bit, and then we kind of shifted to a three-forward formation for a while, thinking that might give us some more firepower, but it didn’t really work out that way; so we had to go back to the 4-4-2 that we were playing at the beginning of the game”
Howard said he was pleased with the perseverance the team showed and was proud of them for their season as a whole, particularly the seniors.
“I knew it was going to be hard, and I asked for the girls to just keep trying and never give up, and that’s what they did,” said Howard. “I’m very proud of the team. The seniors that got us here to State showed the freshmen, sophomores and juniors what it takes to get here, and hopefully next year we can come back and get a win too.”
The loss ends an exceptional season for the Lady Dutch, as they finished with a 16-4 overall record, an unblemished conference record and league title, and back-to-back 10-0 shutouts in the Regional Tournament. It was also the final game for ten seniors on the Pella High squad, including captains Lexi DeHeer, Kim Korver, Taylor Rennich and Addie Van Vliet.