116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES- Courtney Powell nearly did it again.
Trailing 2-1 to Lewis Central in the Class 2A girls' soccer state championship, the Union forward - who beat North Scott on Friday with a 79th-minute goal - was in position to work some magic again. With a little under a minute left in the game, she was posted up on the left side of the goal.
Union (19-3) had just been awarded a corner kick following a furious run down the field toward the Titans goal. As if in slow motion, the ball came toward her and she hit it with her head in the direction of the Lewis Central (19-3) net.
It hit defender Taylor Rolles and bounced out, robbing the senior forward of her 81st goal of the season. Powell was inches from putting the match into overtime. As the final whistle sounded and the Titans clinched their second straight state title, she crouched in disbelief, taking a second to perhaps let the emotions flow.
'I thought we played fantastic for 80 minutes, it was an even contest throughout,” Union Coach Hunter Zempel said. 'We hit the bar, we created chances. It sucks this is how it ended for us.”
Union drew first blood, as Emma Rottinghaus scored in the 15th minute on a deep shot. Unassisted, she crushed the ball past Titans keeper Madison Parks.
The junior midfielder's goal, however, did not last long.
Less than two minutes after the Union goal, Suzie McDonald sent one from way outside the box to equalize the game. It was a gorgeous goal, set up from a strong attack by the Lewis Central side.
'We had a lot of good chances,” Titans Coach Chris Von Mende said. 'We've been down in a couple games and it was good we provided a quick answer.”
The teams went back and forth after that, as two of the best forwards in the state - Powell and the Titans' Kelsey McSorely - battled their foes' defenses. As the first half came to a close, Union had a definitive advantage in shots, though Lewis Central's were a bit more accurate.
Zempel felt his team was strong on defense and keeper Jasmyn Bush was again brilliant in net for the Knights, making seven saves. Lewis Central also outshot the Knights 13-7 in the second half, which made a huge difference.
'I went into this tournament saying Jasmyn is one of the best goalies in the state in my opinion and she's only a freshman,” Zempel said. 'She's so confident, so natural back there. She's fantastic.”
The difference in the game was a 60th minute penalty kick by Lewis Central's Mikayla McCart. Zempel didn't like the call, but he refused to use it as an excuse.
Union had a couple more chances after, but the Titans started to clamp down hard on defense and gave up very few possessions to the Knights.
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