CEDAR RAPIDS — As Iowa City West racked up its sixth straight victory — a 2-1 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy Tuesday night — to start the season, head coach Dave Rosenthal made a quiet shift at halftime.
Goalkeeper Katie McGrane out, other keeper Ali Tauchen in. It did not, however, come as a surprise to anyone — each game this year, they’ve split their time nearly in half.
There’s a keeper battle raging on the West girls’ soccer team. Well, battle might be a bit of a stretch. Rosenthal mentioned he’s comfortable with the rotation now and that there didn’t seem to be any reason to shift away from what they’re doing.
As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“They’re working as a great pair,” he said.
Both seniors, neither keeper saw time in goal last season. As they battled through the preseason, neither was able to separate. Now, each keeper has three starts to her name.
It’s just the way things are working out and the team hasn’t missed a beat. There certainly is chemistry around the squad — the keepers even work together during halftime — which Rosenthal says speaks to their maturity.
“Both her and I have decided we’re really comfortable with this,” McGrane said. “We push each other hard in practice, but not to the point where we’re like, ‘Oh my god, I hate her.’”
They feel the competition is healthy and both players mentioned how it’s making them into better players. There’s no question each has talent and this is certainly a way to take advantage of it.
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McGrane was solid against Kennedy, allowing just one goal — her first of the season — with a little less than two minutes left in the first half. A penalty was called and the Cougars’ Olivia Hellweg smashed the ball into the net during the ensuing spot kick, just past McGrane’s range.
She did make six saves, helping lift up a defense Kennedy was able to find a couple cracks in. West played much better offense in the second half and Tauchen — who has allowed just two goals on the year — didn’t have nearly the amount of work McGrane did.
Tauchen did, however, have an excellent save near the end of the game, one that helped seal the game for West.
“We know the team has our back and that takes a lot of pressure off us,” Tauchen said. “It lets us relax and just do our job.”
The win was the first of two for West Tuesday night, as the boys won the nightcap, 3-1.
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