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Noonan kick beats Maquoketa in shoot-out

Senior Night Friday against Vinton-Shellsburg
Solon junior Penelope Gomez takes the ball away from Cardinal senior Brooklyn Waller during a physical game in Maquoketa on Tuesday, May 1.

SOLON– The Solon Lady Spartans soccer team started a week of very physical play in Maquoketa winning an edge-of-your-seat battle, 3-2, only to fall prey to Central DeWitt, 3-1, battling with a lineup lacking several starters due to high school state large group music competition.
An invigorated Solon Lady Spartan team took the field in Maquoketa on Tuesday, May 1, playing solidly on both ends of the field during a very physical game. Brianna Smith was the first player on either team to modify the scoreboard, making the score 1-0, weaving through several Cardinal defenders, breaking free and driving the ball into the net with 15:02 remaining in the first half and breaking the Lady Spartans’ two-game scoreless streak.
“My first thought was for Bri. I’m happy for her that she got the goal, and the way she did it. It is a huge confidence builder in a game like that,” Coach John Tucker said. “After that, it was making sure the team stayed up so we could score more. One goal is never enough, no matter who you play.”
The Cardinals responded, however, a little more than four minutes later by pulling Solon’s keeper out of position and putting the ball in the net to make it 1-1. The Cardinals scored again, breaking away to make it one-on-one with Solon keeper Brenna Gogel, who dove, getting a hand on the kick, but it rolled past to put the Maquoketa in the lead at the half, 2-1.
In the second half, both sides battled up and down the field until Sylvia Havlicek tied the game, lofting a ball over the Cardinals’ goalie’s head to shake the net for a score and tie the game at 2-2.
The game was a battle traveling the length of the field several times, but when the horn sounded to end regulation the score remained 2-2.
The first 10-minute overtime saw the Lady Spartans knock repeatedly on the goalkeeper’s door for the Cardinals but, at the end, the score remained deadlocked.
In the final overtime, the Cardinals reciprocated and fired on the Solon goal with an occasional trip into their territory by Solon, but the 2-2 score remained as the horn once again sounded setting up a shootout.
Coach Tucker was confident in the team when asked when he knew it would end in a shootout. “About the 99th minute or so. The way things were going toward the end, anything could have happened. I actually thought we would get another goal the way we were playing, but just couldn’t get it in even though we out-shot them,” he said. “Win or lose, I hate shoot outs. But like I’ve told you before, I have confidence in not only our shooters, but also in Brenna (Gogel) who came up with some huge saves in those penalty kicks.”
First to the line to face Gogel was Ida Nielsen for the Cardinals, who fired and Gogel dove to her right just to ensure the kick went wide. Up first for Solon was Brianna Smith whose kick against Maquoketa’s goalie Rachel Vorbeck bounced off the crossbar, glancing off the goalie’s arm and rolled away from the goal. Next was Jenna Yeager for the Cardinals whose squib kick vaulted just past Gogel’s hand to grace the net. Havlicek’s kick was smothered by Vorbeck just shy of the goal line. Gogel slapped away the kick by the Cardinals’ Brooklyn Waller to keep the Lady Spartans in the mix. Solon’s Megan Tucker glanced a kick off the Vorbeck’s arm and into the net to tie. Gogel knocked away another Maquoketa attempt by Ellen Oetken and rolled away in a somersault. Kenzie Pentico was unable to get her kick past the Cardinal goalkeeper. Gogel blocked Cardinal Nell Sybesma’s kick with both hands protecting the goal in a final valiant stand, leaving the game resting on Taylor Noonan’s hands. Noonan took Solon’s final kick, glancing her shot just to Vorbeck’s right, grazing the top bar and bouncing down just inside the goal line in front of the referee for the final score. Solon won, 4-3.
The Solon girls embraced, gathering on the field in celebration of the win.
Gogel clocked 100-minutes plus the five penalty kicks she defended against, allowing three goals and making 11 saves. Smith led the Lady Spartans’ offensive attempts with six shots, four of which were on the goal and one point. Havlicek had five shots with four on goal and scored one point; Tucker had three shots all of which were on goal and was responsible for one of the points; and Noonan recorded two shots one for score. Lauren Roeder recorded on shot on goal as did Kenzie Pentico.
Coach Tucker said the bus trip back was very quiet; the girls fell asleep. “It was a really hard-fought game and they gave it their all. I couldn’t be more proud of their effort,” he offered.
The Lady Spartans had little time to recover as Friday, May 4, they were facing the Central DeWitt Sabers at Spartan Stadium with a lineup peppered with missing members due to the high school music competition.
In a bit of a one-sided affair, the Sabers overran the Lady Spartans, raining 15 shots on Solon’s goal, although only three found their way past Kelsey Smyth, who manned the goal for 40 minutes in the first half. Brianna Smith stepped back into familiar territory in the second half when Smyth limped from the field at the halftime horn with the scoreboard blazing 3-1 in favor of the Sabers.
Havlicek was responsible for the lone Lady Spartan score on a beautiful long shot in the first half.
“Kelsey (Smyth) took a pretty good shot in the first half and was not feeling well, so she asked to sit out. Brianna (Smith) stepped in and just like riding a bike, she picked up right where she left off before. It was good to see her so comfortable and solid in that position,” Coach Tucker commented on the change in goalkeeper.
Smith shut-out the Sabers in the second half to give Solon some sense of triumph as the Lady Spartans mounted a solid defense. The horn sounded at the end of a scoreless second period, Central Dewitt 3, Solon 1.
“We had to move several folks around due to the music event. Some were playing in positions that they had never played before. And while we emphasize communication and team work which they were really working hard on, it was difficult to get a cohesive game plan going for the first part of the first half,” Coach Tucker said. “But that said, I think the team did really well overall. It was nice to see the effort and willingness to step into positions and situations that they would not normally have to deal with. And, by the end of the first half and the entire second half, we had started putting some things together and ended up with a 0-0 tie during that time. As a coach, it is great to know that no matter what happens, the team can step up and play together so well.”
The Lady Spartans record moved to 4-7 on the season following the loss. The remainder of the season has the Lady Spartans hosting Vinton-Shellsburg at home for senior night on Friday, May 11. “Friday’s game against Vinton should be a fun match. Being a home game and also senior night, we will have a little extra motivation. As we have seen through the season so far, when we work together and communicate well, we have a lot of success,” Coach Tucker said.
He expounded on his emotions for this year’s senior night and its special meaning. “I always get a little emotional watching the senior class step on to the home field that last time. But this year I will have a little more emotion as Megan, who has played all four years wraps up her great career, and Jeni, who has been my manager and literally my right hand for the past five years, and Nate has stepped up and in as manager this year as we’ll all take the field one last time. I am really going to miss having all of them around next year. Add to that an exchange student from Spain who has become another family member and also plays on the team, it is going to be really rough watching them all go.
“To be honest, all of the seniors this year hold a special place in my heart as I have been connected with so many of them a little more closely because of our trio being involved in so many activities, and watching this grade grow up through the years. I have been joking that someone else is going to have to read my final senior speech this year just so that I can get through it without breaking down,” he said. “That may not even work this year.”
The Lady Spartans travel to Waverly for a tournament on Saturday, May 12, with games commencing at 9 a.m. On Tuesday, May 15, Solon is on the road to Williamsburg at 5 p.m. and then returns home May 17 to host South Tama.
The final match of the regular season is away against Iowa City Regina on Tuesday, May 22, starting at 4:30 p.m.
“Regionals start May 29. If we win, we play June 1. If we win that (game), we play June 4. The winners of those games go on to state. There are eight brackets which will come out sometime this week,” elaborated Coach Tucker regarding the postseason.
“I am actually not even thinking about Williamsburg and Regina yet. We are focusing right now on fine tuning our game, and working on the things that will make us successful no matter who we play,” he said.
Stats for the Maquoketa game courtesy of Quik Stats and the Central DeWitt stats were courtesy of the Lady Spartans.