Women’s soccer: A new sheriff in town | Sports

Women’s soccer: A new sheriff in town | Sports

OTTUMWA – The new bully on the block?

The new top dog?

The new sheriff in town?

Perhaps it’s a little too early to start using those terms to describe the Indian Hills women’s soccer team in the context of Iowa Community College Athletic Conference standings. After all, it’s just one win.

Considering the history of the two program’s, however, it felt just little bit bigger than simply IHCC’s 11th straight win to open the season. For the second time in program history, the 10th-ranked Warrior women’s soccer team knocked perennial national power and reigning regional champion Iowa Western on Saturday knocking off the fourth-ranked Reivers 3-1 taking the early lead in the regular-season regional championship race.

For now, the road to the regional title goes through Ottumwa, which would mark the first time in program history that the Warriors would have home field advantage throughout the ICCAC tournament. Of course, IHCC (11-0, 2-0 ICCAC) and Iowa Western (6-1, 0-1 ICCAC) still have a regular-season rematch awaiting the teams in Council Bluffs on Oct. 13.

For now, however, the Warriors are going to enjoy their view from the top of the regional standings.

“Being able to beat them for the first time last season made it possible. That was a huge step last season just to get a win over Iowa Western,” IHCC sophomore Bailey Wiemann said. “Being able to beat them and win like this is even bigger. It proves that we’re capable of playing this well against one of the top teams in the country.”

The NJCAA rankings reflected the statement made by the Warriors on Saturday. Indian Hills entered Saturday’s match ranked 10th in the country while Iowa Western entered ranked fourth.

On Monday, IHCC moved ahead of Iowa Western in the latest national rankings. The Warriors are now ranked seventh, one spot ahead of Iowa Western and hold the inside track to the regular-season regional title.

“Last year, beating Iowa Western for the first time felt more like a weight being lifted off our shoulders. It showed everyone that this can be done,” IHCC head women’s soccer coach Anthony Longo said. “We enjoyed it at the time, but when it really mattered in the postseason we kind of laid an egg. This time, we played like a team that has been here before.

“Iowa Western is just another team, to be completely honest. This win sent a great message that, as long as we’re on our game, Indian Hills is going to be the team to beat.”

In a series defined by IHCC being forced to work hard for several minutes just to get one goal past the Reivers, Indian Hills set a new tone on Saturday scoring less than three minutes after the opening kickoff. Wiemann found freshman teammate Elisabeth Plouy through traffic, allowing Plouy to fire home a strike past Iowa Western goal keeper Judit Golivera 2:52 into the match, giving Indian Hills a sudden 1-0 lead.

“It situations like that, as the home team, we expect to come out and put the early pressure on,” Longo said. “Getting that early goal only helps to feed your confidence. It got us going and forced Iowa Western to make some decisions on their end.

“They had a game plan going in. When you give up a goal less than three minutes in, you’re forced to decide if you’re going to strike with that game plan or make adjustments right away. It kind of put them on their back foot a little bit.”

Iowa Western, however, fought back and found a tying goal midway through the first half. Rylie Jacobson got free on a long, deflected pass from Hanna Estrada and made a run at IHCC freshman goal keeper Trista Westphal, burying the shot in the 26th minute to even the match at 1-1.

Indian Hills remained undaunted, matching the Reivers scoring chance for scoring chance throughout the remainder of the first half. Wiemann, IHCC’s top goal scorer, would find a breakthrough goal of her own by heading in a loose ball that had caromed in front of the goal after an initial throw in and shot by Plouy giving the Warriors a 2-1 lead with 7:44 left in the half.

“I don’t often score off my head. I was really happy that it got in there,” Wiemann said. “I try to guide it a lot of times when I hit it off my head. It doesn’t always work out the way I want it to, so it was a great feeling to see one go into the net just the way I was aiming for it to go.” 

For the second straight year, Indian Hills suddenly had a one-goal lead to protect against Iowa Western in the second half. This time, however, the Warriors didn’t just protect the slim edge. Risa Ogasawara put home a header of her own off a corner kick from Mifumi Sasanuma in the 58th minute, giving the Warriors a two-goal lead for the first time in the series history with the Reivers.

“We never wanted to let up. We wanted to keep going 100 percent,” Wiemann said. “It’s nice to know that we have a cushion. If something happens, we’re still going to have a lead, even though we certainly didn’t want to let another goal in.”

Sydney Ray Anderson made sure the Reivers (6-1, 0-1 ICCAC) didn’t get back within a goal in the second half. The freshman from North Polk stood up to a desperate Iowa Western attack, stopping seven shots including three straight saves in the final minutes extinguishing any last hopes of a comeback win for the Reivers. 

“You know as a goalie that the other team, in that situation, is going to give it everything they’ve got and take as many shots as possible,” Anderson said. “The best thing you can do as a goalie is prepare yourself as much as possible and talk with everyone to make sure everyone is ready for the attack.

“There were a lot of girls that saved my butt out there because I was in the wrong position. All you want to do in that situation is slow the match down as much as possible. One stop at a time was all that was going through my head.”

Seventh-ranked Indian Hills (11-0, 2-0 ICCAC) hosts Black Hawk College out of Moline, Illinois on Wednesday. The non-conference match kicks off at Schafer Stadium at noon.

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