116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — Maia Bentley ranks third in the state of Iowa with 47 goals this season. You’d think there might not be too many left for her Mount Vernon girls’ soccer teammates.
Until you see Bentley is also near the top of the state’s assists chart, in a tie for third in all classes with 23, the most in Class 2A.
That dynamic was on display again Wednesday night. Bentley scored two goals and provided two assists while Anna Hoffman erupted for five goals as the 10th-ranked Mustangs (16-2) pulled away for an 8-2 win over Marion (12-5) in a regional semifinal at the Cornell College soccer field.
“It’s just great to have someone so consistent and constant on the team because I know I can always count on her,” Hoffman, a junior midfielder said of Bentley. “When we get in tough situations, it’s just nice to be able to lean on her.”
Bentley, also a junior, scored the opener just 53 seconds into the match, creating space near the top of the box and launching a shot to the low corner.
Hoffman made it 2-0, then twice put in corner kicks from Bentley to restore the MV lead to two after Grace Coates, who ranks second in Iowa with 53 goals, scored twice for Marion.
With those two known goal-scorers on the field, Hoffman kind of stole the show.
“It was just really just the defenders behind me. They told me when to take it,” Hoffman said. “They just really gave me the confidence in myself. Our coach tells us to take shots if they’re there and today they were.”
Hoffman added two more goals in the final 11 minutes on a pair of shots from outside the box. In between, Bentley scored her second when she held the ball and waited for a defender to approach, then blew by her and fired to the far post.
Whether it’s her long throw-ins, dangerous set pieces or outstanding dribbling and speed, Bentley lives up to the box-score hype.
So does her team, which only has losses to No. 9 Clear Creek Amana in 2OT and by a goal to 3A No. 15 Iowa City High. Also making an impact in the middle of the field are steady seniors like center back Sydney Shultz and attacking midfielder Emma Rodman (23 goals this season).
“I think the special part of this team is (Bentley) is so athletic and so good, but there are players around her that she can feed off of,” Mount Vernon Coach Jenna Hindman said. “If she’s having a bad day or they’re marking her, my other players step up and put goals in the back of the net.”
The Mustangs are on the doorstep of their first state tournament appearance in Hindman’s first year. They’ll have to get past No. 8 Cedar Rapids Xavier (12-5) in a regional final Friday.
“Our coach is a big tribute to (the winning),” Bentley said. “She has been absolutely awesome. I feel like this year we’ve just had so much more fun, and that’s not saying anything bad about our past coaches or anything like that.
“This year, the people that we have and the environment that she’s provided for us has just been a place where we’ve all grown so much.”