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Lady Spartans have two get away

Two road losses moves Solon girls to 3-6 for the season
Lady Spartan Megan Tucker scoops the ball away from Mount Vernon’s Emma Rodman in a battle of elbows and feet, during Solon’s 5-0 loss to the Mustangs in Mount Vernon on Friday, April 27. (photo by Jeff Hess)

MOUNT VERNON– The Lady Spartans soccer team suffered a week of setbacks with two road losses on grass fields away from home.
Nike had a marketing campaign bearing the quote, “The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure.”
Tuesday, April 24, the Lady Spartans girls’ soccer team boarded the bus and traveled to Epworth challenging the Western Dubuque Bobcats. The Bobcats took an early lead and kept applying the pressure, dealing the Lady Spartans an 8-0 loss.
Taylor Noonan and Jayna Koffron each mounted a shot on goal but were unable to record a score and Megan Tucker, Lauren Roeder and Sylvia Havlicek recorded shots during the game in Epworth. Brenna Gogel manned the goal for 80 minutes and recorded 11 saves but allowed eight goals.
“We let one go in early and then had a penalty kick called against us, which was very questionable. Unfortunately, I think that got into our heads a little and we struggled to find our selves after,” Coach John Tucker said following the game. “We talked about it after the game, as a group, and we understand we have to keep playing and working through things... even when things are not going our way. It was a very positive discussion.”
Coach Tucker was quick to dismiss the grass field’s influence on the game’s outcome as nothing more than a challenge.
“It was a grass field that has not yet fully recovered from the football season last fall. It posed some challenges on multiple levels,” he said. “We have been practicing on the old soccer field, which is grass, so we can keep getting more comfortable on those types of fields. We have had a great week of practice, and the team is ready to go mentally, and physically. I think you will see a step up in play against Mount Vernon,” Coach Tucker said on Thursday, looking toward Friday’s game against Mount Vernon.
The Mustangs ran wild on Friday, April 27, defeating the Spartans, 5-0, but never had the Lady Spartans feeling out of the game until the final ticks.
Mount Vernon got out to a 1-0 lead early in the game and then the Solon defense set its heels. Solon even made several forays into Mustang territory that were inevitably turned away. With 13:17 glowing on the clock Solon gave up a goal, allowing the Mustangs a 2-0 lead. Chandler DeWitt and Jill Richards turned back repeated forays near the goal and Lauren Roeder and Madysen Hess got the ball into Mustang territory only to have it turned back. Sylvia Havlicek also had the ball in range of the goal on several occasions only to have it turned back.
The Mustangs scored on a high kick just off goalie Brenna Gogel’s fingertips with a little less than a minute-and-a-half gone in the second half.
Solon trailed Mount Vernon, 3-0.
“It seems like the Mount Vernon players were all very comfortable in their game plan. I think many of them have played together in club ball for quite some time. They did not do anything that we have not seen before, they just did it well,” said Tucker.
Gogel made a fingertip save, deflecting a shot at the upper right hand corner by the Mustangs at the 32:39 that seemed to put a charge in the Lady Spartans.
With 28:02 aglow atop the score board, a kick finally made it past DeWitt and Richards and an outstretched Gogel. With slightly less that four minutes ticked from the clock the Lady Spartans’ goalie Gogel made a diving block to deflect another assault on the goal. Solon’s Noonan and Brianna Smith forced the ball into Mustang territory several times before the Mustangs scored their final tipped goal with 14:09 left in the match. Delaney Bair made a forray into the Mustangs’ territory before they turned it away and DeWitt and Richards combined with Gogel in the final minutes to prevent and smother any more scoring.
Sylvia Havlicek was credited for one shot on goal as did Brianna Smith. Smith also had one other shot as did Roeder.
Gogel was assigned to the goal, clocking 80 minutes, yielding five scores and recording 11 saves.
“We run with two forwards, which means the midfield needs to step up and play more offensively than if we ran more than just the two up top,” Tucker said. “And, although it puts a lot of pressure on the midfield to get back on defense, we really need to get numbers up on offense and get more goals.
“Our midfielders are being asked a lot of right now by having to play both offensively, and then back quickly on defense. It is a lot of running, and hard to get into that mindset. But I think with every game we play, they are becoming more comfortable with the system. We still have a lot of season left to work on our game plan and make sure everyone is comfortable in their roles,” he added.
The Lady Spartans ended the week 3-6 for the season with a road game in Maquoketa on Tuesday, May 1, with a 5 p.m. start; a pair of Friday home games, the first on May 4 against Central Clinton from DeWitt and on May 11 against Vinton-Shellsburg, both with 5:30 p.m. starts at Spartan Stadium. Friday, May 11, is the Lady Spartans soccer team’s senior night. The Lady Spartans play in a tournament, in Waverly, on Saturday, May 12, starting at 9 a.m., and their regular season ends on the road in Williamsburg on Tuesday, May 15, with a 5 p.m. start and at Regina, in Iowa City, starting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 22.
“Maquoketa is always a very physical team, and playing on their field is another huge challenge for us. DeWitt was at the top of the WaMaC last year, and will be a solid team. Both games are winnable, if we play up to the way I know we can play and continue to work together,” Tucker said. “Vinton is somewhat down this year from years in the past. We cannot overlook them, though, and we want to have a great showing since it is our Senior Night, as well, and we hope to pack the stands. We will be going into postseason with fewer games immediately leading up to it, but it will provide an opportunity for us to really dial in on what we want to do in the postseason during practices.
“Every game from here on out will be a chance for us to continue to improve, and work on the things that will help us in post season,” he added. “The Waverly tournament will be a great chance for more of our players to get more playing time, as we will be playing three very tough games in a single day. Experience and working together in games is as valuable to this team as skills drills are in practices at this point. I have seen some great things from this team through each game we play. And, while the scoreboard may not show it, we have been playing quite well. I’m looking forward to seeing just how far this team can go if they keep improving as they have been.”