Anytime you have to face off against the top-ranked team in the state in an elimination game, you know your team has to play an almost flawless game.
Even though Western Dubuque’s girls’ soccer team played a solid match, the Bobcats, like the other five teams who have played Waverly-Shell Rock since May 15, were unable to score a goal and lost 10-0 in their Class 2A Regional Final played in Waverly, June 4.
“I’m proud. We came out and gave it everything we had in the tank and we fought,” said Cecelia Zangara, head coach. “They put up one hell of a fight and I don’t think anyone expected that, so I’m very proud of the things this team did today.”
To say that Waverly-Shell Rock (16-2) takes the field with a relentless attacking of the goal is an understatement.
Faith Krapfl, Western Dubuque’s goalkeeper, and the rest of the ‘Cats defensive backfield did what they could to keep the match scoreless for the opening eight minutes and 50 seconds until Kenzie Roling, the state’s leading goal scorer, managed to find the back of the net to give Waverly-Shell Rock a 1-0 lead.
Anna Stromberg made it 2-0 when the ball she booted hit the underside of the crossbar inside the goal with 26:15 left in the first half.
With Faith Bower and Leah Digman, Western Dubuque’s two top leading goal scorers, shadowed all over by Go-Hawk defenders, the Bobcats struggled to mount any offensive attacks. With under 23 minutes to play, Bower was awarded a free kick. She blasted a shot turned away by the Go-Hawks’ keeper. The Bobcats were unable to get the rebound as the speedy Go-Hawks quickly pushed the ball back into their offensive end where Macy Smith found Roling in front of the net and led 3-0 with 21:26 left in the first half.
The Bobcats kept Waverly-Shell Rock scoreless for over 10 minutes, but Roling and the constant pressure by the Go-Hawks attackers was just too much. Roling, with her back to the goal, settled the ball and quickly turned to the right firing a shot past Krapfl with her left foot to make it 4-0. Roling added another just 36 seconds before halftime for a 5-0 lead at the break.
The Go-Hawks scored five more goals in the second half to earn one of the eight spots in the state tournament field. Roling finished with six goals and two assists while Stromberg and Macy Smith both scored two goals.
Waverly-Shell Rock got off 50 shots during the match with 33 of them being on goal meaning Krapfl collected 23 saves, most from point-blank range.
“This team literally laid it out. Our biggest thing was no regrets, leave it on the field and that’s what they did. They used every ounce of energy they had to keep them out of the net,” said Zangara. “They knew that if (Waverly-Shell Rock) was going to go to state that they were going to have to earn it and they did. They played a very good game and we wish them all the best of luck, but they had to go through us first.
“It was a tough year when we started in the (Mississippi Valley Conference) and then we had a year off for COVID. I don’t think anyone expected us to hold our own and then we came out and we had some statement wins. We battled and to get where we are today hands down is a tribute to how hard these girls worked day in and day out to improve. Now the bar has been set. Next year we have one more game to win in the playoffs to accomplish our goal. We’re not finished.”