CEDAR RAPIDS — Halfway through the first overtime between the Cedar Rapids Xavier and Cedar Rapids Kennedy girls’ soccer teams Tuesday at Xavier, a gaggle of geese wandered onto the playing field.
They seemed in no hurry to leave, either, sticking their beaks into the ground, looking for food. Their little foray onto the field ended when a stray ball and a herd of players startled them back to the tree line where they stayed, seeming to watch the game from behind the net.
A few minutes later, they had the best seats in the house for a game winning Cougars goal from freshman forward Amurie Coder and the dogpile that followed the 3-2 victory.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” Coder said. “Everyone was tired but we had to keep the energy up.”
Exhaustion was certainly starting to set in. 3A No. 5 Kennedy (8-3) raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first half, with goals coming from Emily Sass (her 11th of the season) and the other from Kenadee Dekko.
The game had been physical, as one would expect from two schools 2 1/2 miles from each other. It’s a rivalry and not for the fainthearted, at that.
However, the teams were able to channel the aggression and things never got out of hand. As Coder would say after the game, being smart wins these types of games.
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“You have to have a positive mindset,” Coder said. “You might want to go after someone who fouled you, but that’s not how you really win.”
The second half was all 2A No. 7 Xavier (7-3). The Saints’ Elena Minor was brilliant in the loss, scoring two goals — one at the 37:34 mark and the other with 2:36 left.
Her first was unassisted, as she loped down the field, expertly navigating the Kennedy defenders before firing a shot to put her team on the board. The second, a slow roller, came after Cougar goalie Brittany Bell flew out of the edge of the box to try and grab the ball.
Minor was faster, however, and able to sneak one by her. It seemed as if things had turned in favor of the Saints, who had long bouts of ball domination during the second half.
Pressure was being applied, but once overtime hit, the Cougars seemed to flip a switch and find their own aggressiveness once again.
“They showed some character and fought through it,” Kennedy head coach Homer Screws said. “Ugly, but they got it done.”
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