Family atmosphere paying dividends for Center Point-Urbana girls' soccer

Stormin' Pointers look for fifth trip to state this season

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CENTER POINT — Family is a word that circulates its way around the Center-Point Urbana girls’ soccer program with regularity.

It’s a buzzword for coaches, something they like to use to inspire a team to play together. In Center Point, however, there really does seem to be something homely about the program. The girls’ team has had the same two head coaches — Todd Mitchell and Rich Plante — since its inception 12 years ago.

Former players routinely come back to catch games, there’s friendly jabs back and forth with boys’ coach Curtis Cassidy (who coaches the team with his sister, Alicia) over a ball that was allegedly swiped on accident.

Heck, Plante even mentioned he helps fertilize and mow the field, which they also helped build. It’s small-town Iowa at its very best.

The thing is, they’re winning, too. On Friday evening, the girls, who are ranked No. 5 in Class 1A, beat Anamosa 8-0, extending their streak of games without allowing a goal to seven. They’ve scored at least three goals in every Wamac Conference game, while not allowing a single goal in any of those matches.

There’s a good chance the Stormin’ Pointers (10-1) make the state tournament this season, which would be the fifth time the team has done so. They’ve never advanced far — the furthest coming in 2013, when they fell to state runner-up Sioux City Heelan 2-1 in the semifinals.

This could be the team that makes it even further.

“I’ve always known this team was going to be special,” Plante said. “The only thing that is going to stop us this year is ourselves.”

The culture the team has built trickled down and even opposing fans recognize it. CPU got up early on the Blue Raiders (2-11), leading 4-0 with just over 20 minutes left in the first half.

At that point, the Stormin’ Pointers subbed off several of their starters, electing to play some of the backups — 27 total players have appeared in a game for CPU this season.

Using its normal starting lineup in the second half, CPU scored three quick goals out of halftime and started subbing in backups again. As one fan said, “they’re not out here to 10-0 people.” Meaning, of course, the team doesn’t try and reach the 10-goal mercy rule in a game.

It’s a respect thing and a classy move to make when a team is obviously outmatched. But don’t think for a second they couldn’t if they didn’t want to. Against Anamosa, at least, the team was running its set pieces well, corner kicks were on-target and the defense — which is a huge point of pride — was a wall.

Simply put, the team has a high degree of chemistry and are pieces of a whole, as opposed to just a collection of players. Where does that come from? Well, the answer is pretty simple for senior captain Rylie Conway.

“We’re sisters for each other,” Conway said. “On and off the field, even at school, we look out for each other. We’re a family.”

l Comments: jordan.hansen@thegazette.com

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