DES MOINES - The defense was there, but the offensive breaks weren’t for North Polk in a 1-0 loss to Center Point-Urbana during the Class 1A semifinals at the girls’ state soccer tournament Saturday.
North Polk executed well for much of the game, but the Comets could never get the big run they needed to put a goal on the board.
CPU scored the game’s only goal five minutes, nine seconds into the second half. Adrianna Katcher found the net on an unassisted goal.
“We played a good first half — being patient and passing the ball from side to side,” North Polk head girls’ soccer coach Jeff Anker said. “After they scored we didn’t panic, and told our girls to play our game. But they packed it in and it was very difficult to get a through ball as they had 11 back. We even tried to send an extra forward with Joy (Smith), but they held their shape well. We had chances and didn’t capitalize.”
North Polk was unable to take advantage of Smith’s speed up front, thanks to the aggressive nature of CPU on defense.
“I think we were doing fine passing, it’s just the fact that they were so big and physical,” North Polk senior Courtney Bonewitz said. “It’s hard to have all that energy to run and connect with passes and be physical against them because they’re much bigger than us.”
“Every time you’d get the ball in front of them, they’d just trip you from behind,” Smith said. “So you really couldn’t do anything with it.”
North Polk ended the season with the best record in school history at 17-3. The Comets totaled 14 shutouts, won a loaded Heart of Iowa Conference featuring two other 1A state teams (Nevada and Gilbert) and made state for the first time in school history.
“It’s an honor to be the first team from North Polk to go to state,” Comet senior Hannah Becker said. “I’m glad we got to come out here and experience it. I just wish we could’ve made it all the way. I believe in my team and I know if we could’ve beat them, we can do anything.”
Smith finished the year with an amazing 35 goals and nine assists, despite sitting out a lot of time in blowout games. She scored 121 goals and dished out 42 assists in her career.
Bonewitz ended her career with 54 assists and 29 goals. Becker had 47 goals and 38 assists, Riley Murphy nine assists and two goals, Chey Chelsey four goals and two assists, Gracie Harmeyer two goals and Maddy Hill seven assists and four goals.
Becker, Murphy, Harmeyer and Hill were also valuable on defense during their careers, helping North Polk total 42 shutouts over the last four years.
Anker said, even with the loss of a talented senior class, the future is looking bright for his program. He also said he wanted to thank the North Polk community for its support in helping the Comets go from three wins the year before the current seniors arrived to a state tournament program.
CPU went on to suffer a 3-0 loss to Davenport Assumption in the 1A state championship game on Saturday. CPU finished 17-5 and Assumption went 19-2, winning its sixth 1A state title in seven years.