116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The ball hit the back of the net with 7:05 remaining Thursday night at Ed Barker Soccer Complex, and Iowa City West’s Meena Tate looked like she didn’t know what to do next.
“I was really surprised,” Tate said. “When I shot it, I wasn’t even thinking.”
As Tate collected a pass from Grace Curran at the top of the box, turned into open space and fired, she looked like a veteran center forward who had scored dozens of goals in her career, not a sophomore midfielder notching her first high school goal in her team’s biggest rivalry game.
It was the first and only goal of the night as Class 3A No. 13 Iowa City West beat No. 9 Iowa City High 1-0.
“I saw she overplayed me, so I turned the other way, and then everything was just open. Nobody was there,” Tate said. “I thought, if I just kick it hard it will probably go in.”
Just as unlikely as Tate might have thought scoring herself was, it looked like the Trojans (4-3) might not even produce that kind of chance early in this match. City High (1-2) was in control after kickoff and Julia Bernat — who West Coach David Rosenthal called the team’s most improved player — came up with multiple diving saves to keep it scoreless.
Something changed at halftime. It was West, with players like Tate, Makenna Vonderhaar and Jada Dachtler, stepping up to take control of the midfield, West making key one-on-one defensive plays and West taking the first five shots after the break.
“This particular team is one of the better teams I’ve had in my 27 years of responding to coaching,” Rosenthal said.
The Trojans were thumped 5-0 Tuesday night at Linn-Mar, which is ranked No. 3 in 3A in the first state rankings released Thursday, but regrouped quickly.
“I think there’s a good mental toughness to them,” Rosenthal said. “It makes a difference in games like this.”
For Tate, it was another breakout game on a big stage after scoring a career-high 21 points in a state basketball quarterfinal win in March. She says she prefers defensive plays in soccer, but her team needed a goal here and that’s what she provided. With 10 seconds left, West also needed to get one last ball away from speedy City High forward Claire Brown.
It was Tate who swept it out of danger.
“We knew we could win and we should win,” Tate said. “I think we just got really hyped up at halftime and used that energy.”