DENVER - The North Polk girls’ soccer program made it clear it intends to be a force for years to come after returning to state with a 2-1 victory over Denver in the Class 1A regional finals Monday at Denver.


The No. 10 Comets entered the game as underdogs to the No. 5 Cyclones. After losing several talented players off last year’s team that qualified for state for the first time in school history, North Polk wasn’t expected to get past Denver.


A big game from Danielle Bonewitz on offense and a great defensive effort helped the Comets prove doubters wrong and earn a trip back to state with a 14-5 record.


“We’re very excited for the girls,” North Polk head girls’ soccer coach Jeff Anker said. “I think last night was the best game the girls have played all season. Our experienced stepped up and led by example — scoring goals, blocking shots and chasing down breakaways. And our younger players played with confidence and poise.”


The Comets wanted to get out strong against Denver and that’s exactly what they did. It took North Polk just five minutes to get on the board as Katie Berglund scored after following a free kick from Bonewitz that hit the goal.


Denver came back to tie the score in the next 10 minutes. Lila Meyer converted a long shot over Comet keeper Sydney Anderson off an assist from Annie Place.


But with around 10 minutes left in the half, North Polk regained the momentum on a clutch goal by Bonewitz. The defense took over from there, keeping Denver off the board the entire second half to earn North Polk a shot at defending 1A state champion Davenport Assumption in the opening round at state.


Anderson finished the game with five saves at keeper. North Polk totaled four corner kicks on the evening.


Denver keeper Emma Hennessy made three saves in losing effort. The Cyclones finished the season at 11-3.


North Polk’s 1A state quarterfinal game against Assumption (15-2) takes place at 11 a.m. today on Field 9 at the Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines.


North Polk 2, Denver 1


NP 2 0 - 2


D 1 0 - 1


Scoring


First half


NP - Katie Berglund (Danielle Bonewitz).


D - Lila Meyer (Annie Place).


NP - Bonewitz.


ALLEMAN - North Polk used a quick spurt in the first half to establish control against Iowa Falls-Alden and the Comets never let the Cadets make a serious run, earning a 5-0 Class 1A regional semifinal victory Friday at Comet Stadium in Alleman.


After a slow first 10 minutes, North Polk scored twice in a three-minute span.


Danielle Bonewitz found the net first off a ball from Janie Walter and Katie Berglund followed with a goal from the 18.


“We were connecting a lot better from the beginning (of the season) to now, Berglund said. “It’s just patience. We had patience and did our combinations (and) we finally scored.”


Berglund netted her second goal at the 23:17 mark off a great cross from Maddie Bruggeman.


“I don’t want to say it’s luck, but sometimes a big ball in there is all you need,” Bruggeman said. “Katie, she’s fast enough to put it in.”


Abi Zimmer put North Polk up 4-0 at the half by scoring with just over seven minutes left. Katryn Halterman capped the Comet scoring with a goal 14 minutes into the second half.


North Polk’s balance will make it a tough out in the postseason. The Comets have had several players step up to make contributions on offense alongside Berglund, Bonewitz and Halterman.


“If the shots open, just shoot it,” Walter said. “It’s an opportunity.”


North Polk finished the game with 23 shots and six corner kicks.


North Polk 5, Iowa Falls-Alden 0


IFA 0 0 - 0


NP 4 1 - 5


Scoring


First half


NP - Danielle Bonewitz (Janie Walter), 9:48.


NP - Katie Berglund, 12:53.


NP- Berglund (Maddie Bruggeman), 23:17.


NP - Abi Zimmer, 32:47.


Second half


NP - Katryn Halterman, 53:59.


ALLEMAN - North Polk began Class 1A regional play with a 10-0 quarterfinal victory over Webster City in 65 minutes May 29 at Comet Field in Alleman.


The Comets overwhelmed the Lynx all evening, recording an impressive 35 shots before the game was called due to the 10-goal rule.


Danielle Bonewitz and Katryn Halterman each recorded a hat-trick for North Polk. Bonewitz had four goals and one assist and Halterman three goals and one assist.


Katie Berglund added one goal and two assists, Janie Walter one goal and assist apiece, Maddie Bruggeman one goal and Brooke Johnson one assist.


Sydney Anderson didn’t need to make a single save, thanks to the Comets’ dominant possession game.