116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Mia DePrenger grew up in an athletic and competitive family.
The Iowa City High senior watched her older sisters, Sydney and Maddie, play soccer and run track for the Littles Hawks. When it was her turn to play spring sports, she did what was natural and followed her siblings as a two-sport, one-season performer.
“They did both throughout their high school years, too,” DePrenger said. “It’s like I have to do it, basically, at this point.”
Her dual role has led to a memorable week. A few days after she ran on a state championship 1,600 relay, DePrenger scored the go-ahead goal in 11th-ranked City High’s 6-1 Class 3A regional girls’ soccer semifinal victory over No. 15 Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Tuesday at home.
The Little Hawks (12-3) avenged a home loss in this round to the Cougars a year ago, advancing to Thursday’s regional final against No. 4 Waukee Northwest (15-2).
“I think it was important to stay humble, play quick, play smart and I think that’s the way we went into the game,” City High Coach Corbin Scholz said. “We wanted to keep the positive attitudes up and make sure we were strong mentally, because I know we can play soccer.
“I knew we were going to do really well this game. We warmed up really strong. Our last two days of practice were really strong. Overall, just better vibes going into this game than last year.”
DePrenger had to endure some good-natured ribbing from that last loss, hearing it from the Cougars she played club soccer with during the offseason.
“It’s very nice, especially since I know them personally,” DePrenger said about the latest win. “They would give me crap during the season about how they won.”
DePrenger has been a staple in the Little Hawks lineup, starting as a freshman. She made her third goal of the year, giving her 12 total points, and has six assists. DePrenger has a strong impact on her teammates.
“Her whole family has been in the program for the last nine or 10 years,” Scholz said. “Just being able to grow up in the program and knowing how much she cares and gives to the program is really important. The people around her feed off that energy and can really use it positively.”
Being a multi-sport athlete has its challenges. The demands are even tougher in the same season. DePrenger has managed the everyday grind, battling quadriceps strains in both legs.
The Minnesota State soccer commit had to learn when to ease up in games, practices and meets, which is hard given her competitive streak.
DePrenger said the success is satisfying after attempting to remain healthy during the season and do well at the end.
“I think it’s a balance between knowing how much you can push yourself,” DePrenger said. “After school, I’d have track practice and go straight to soccer practice. So, when I have a hard workout in track and have to go to soccer, it’s nice for it to pay off in the end because of how much I was going through in the middle of the season.”
Another important factor to success is the collaborative effort by Scholz and girls’ track coach Jeremy Mims. They communicated with each other so DePrenger didn’t over train. She had light soccer workouts after a hard track practice and vice versa on heavy soccer days.
“Just make sure we’re working together was a really important thing this year,” Scholz said. “We had to make sure that she was up front about how she’s feeling, too.”
Despite a wrap on her left leg, DePrenger relied on her speed for a breakaway with the game tied, 1-1.
DePrenger dribbled the ball with a defender at her left side as the goalie attacked. Right before the goalie lunged forward, DePrenger made a cut to her right, controlled the ball and firmly placed it in the back left of the goal. She provided City High a lead with a little more than 23 minutes remaining in the first half.
“I saw the goalie coming out,” DePrenger said. “I usually just freak out and kick the ball. I made myself stay composed, took a touch around and just put it in the back (of the net).”
Kennedy opened the scoring a little more than seven minutes into the game. Cassie White posted the Cougars’ only goal for a 1-0 lead.
City High responded with a Kelsey Dilanni score with 27:08 left before intermission. Dilanni finished with two goals to lead all scorers.
The Little Hawks added four goals in the second half to pull away and move within a victory of state.
“We were able to recognize what we needed to focus on,” Scholz said. “The girls are so receptive and awesome that they were able to make it click. We went off in the second half.”