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Union soccer opens season on 2-1 start

April 11, 2019
Dysart Reporter

The Union girls soccer team started off their 2019 season with two key home victories against 3A schools in Cedar Falls and Iowa City High to open the season 2-0.

The Knights first took on the Tigers of Cedar Falls on Thursday, April 4, aware they were opening with a talented opponent from a larger school and shrugged off a slow start to win 3-1.

"Cedar Falls is a good program and we like the challenge right off the bat," coach Hunter Zempel said. "We started out a little shaky in those first couple of minutes because I didn't feel we were locked in right away. Other than that, we played an overall good game."

Article Photos

Alyssa Hatch scored the first goal of the season in her first varsity start against Cedar Falls on April 4.

The Tigers took advantage of a slow start to attack the Knights with an early shot off the mark. As the new-season jitters wore off, the Union defense began to tighten down and the midfield organized a few shots at the goal before Riley Rosauer opened scoring for the Knights ten minutes into the game.

"I thought we controlled the game more, had the better chance to score," Zempel said.

"Our defense did a really solid job for the most part. When our midfield attacks, we're a dangerous team."

After a few more shots came up a bit too high for scores, Alyssa Hatch added to the Union lead in her first start for the program.

"Alyssa played some minutes last and contributed greatly from the wing in her first varsity start," Zempel said. "She came up with a goal, but overall her work ethic on the field and playing with her teammates was what made her have a great game. Hopefully, she brings that same attitude and effort all season. We expect big things from her."

Though the Knights went into the locker room up 2-0 at the half, Zempel knew whichever team scored next would have the momentum on their side. Another slow start greeted the home team in the opening minutes, yet the Knights defended the Tigers from several chances to score.

"We talked about coming out in the second half sharper and focused from a technical standpoint, yet again it didn't help right away," Zempel said. "We need to adjust that immediately because we have competition coming here and we can't give easy chances to them."

The Union midfield once again showed their ability to create and score as Lexi Wagner found the net on a penalty kick halfway through the second 40 minutes. While the Knights would not score again in the game, it wasn't for a lack of effort on Rosauer as she continued to dominate ball handling against a Cedar Falls defense that adjusted as the game went into its final minutes.

"Riley was voted team captain this year because she has a lot qualities about her game she hasn't been able to show over the last two years with her injuries," Zempel said. "This is her year to show everyone what she's made of."

One slip of the defense led to the Tigers scoring with three minutes left on the clock. Overall, goalie Jasmyn Bush allowed only the single goal and had nine saves on the afternoon.

"Overall, the our four defenders did a great job and Jasmyn played a great game in the back," Zempel said. "Us coaches have such confidence in her abilities and it spreads to her teammates when she shows her worth out there."

The Knights only had one practice day to prepare for Iowa City High coming to La Porte City on Saturday, April 6, who were ranked number 14 in Class 3A ahead of the matchup.

"We understood we had to learn from the mistakes we made against Cedar Falls on Thursday, having more balance in the midfield and moving the ball a little bit quicker," Zempel said.

In recent games against the Little Hawks, the winner had been determined by one goal in all but one of Zempel's years. Last season, the Knights lost 2-1 in overtime in Iowa City and with a team mostly back from last season, Zempel believed his team knew what to expect as they entered a low scoring matchup. Both defenses held their opponent's offense in check and at halftime neither squad had a goal.

"We had a couple of scenarios Allie will finish next time and we're still a work-in-progress early in the season," Zempel said. "Our attacking and combinations are improving day-by-day."

Despite few scoring attempts, Zempel felt the girls played a strong first half and had momentum and encouraged his players to keep with the game plan. Union continued to battle as scoring opportunities opened, including Allie Carty punching a shot in for the lone goal of the game to give the Knights a 1-0 advantage. The Little Hawks attempted to tie that game with a score of their own with seven minutes left, but a save by Bush kept the lead for the Knights and held on for the rest of game to score their second win of the young season. Bush also had seven other saves in the win.

"We moved the ball better and had the desire to keep working until the last minute," Zempel said. "There was more intensity about us in that second half that goes ahead for that winning shot. The defense took a big step forward today and now it's about being more efficient around the goal.

The Knights ended their three-game home streak as they fell to Waverly-Shell Rock 3-0 on Tuesday before they travel to Anamosa on Friday, April 12 and Hudson on Thursday, April 18.



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