116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Linn-Mar had given up two goals in 18 girls’ soccer games. Sixteen times, the Lions held their opponent scoreless.
Muscatine equaled that goals total in the first half of their 19th game Friday night. Then the Muskies went out and did it again in the second half. It was a stunning scoreline, 11th-ranked Muscatine ending No. 6 Linn-Mar’s season, 4-1, in a Class 3A regional final at Linn-Mar Stadium.
“I definitely think we surprised them,” Muscatine junior forward Meredith Connor said.
The Lions’ only losses before this were to top-three teams Pleasant Valley (1-0) and Waukee (in penalties after a scoreless game). They had outscored opponents 102-2 this season. The only time they as much as trailed was in the second half of that loss to the Spartans way back on April 16.
Muscatine (15-3) led from almost start to finish here, though. Connor was able to settle a long throw-in in the box in the sixth minute and create enough space to get a shot off to the corner of the goal.
“Before the game, we were just telling ourselves that we have to come out with the mentality that we’re gonna win and that we’re gonna score goals,” Connor said.
The Muskies weren’t satisfied with one. A quick counterattack saw Sophia Thomas hit a ball wide to Lanie Weikert, who crossed to Mya Jansen for a one-touch finish in a matter of seconds to double the lead just 4:03 before halftime.
“I think we brought the intensity and made sure to win every 50-50 ball and that’s what led us to score those goals,” Jansen said.
Connor put in her second goal to make it 3-0 in the 52nd minute, then after Hallie Peak got Linn-Mar (16-3) on the board via a penalty kick with 7:46 to go, Weikert put an end to the Lions’ comeback hopes with a breakaway goal from distance just over two minutes later.
“When we got down right away, it’s just something that we weren’t really used to, especially at the beginning of the game,” Linn-Mar Coach Marco de Leon said. “It kind of caught us off guard. It took us a while to get some urgency back.”
Muscatine, advancing to state for the first time since 2007, certainly was viewed as capable of pulling this upset. But for a Linn-Mar team that had the talent to contend for the state championship, this was not a season-ending story that would have been predicted.
Peak (Drake), Leah Ahlers (Western Illinois) and goalkeeper Waverly Patterson (South Dakota) are all signed to play Division I soccer. Multiple other seniors will play at the next level in the fall, too. They were part of teams that reached state in 2018 and 2019 and wanted more this year.
“Credit to Muscatine,” de Leon said. “It just wasn’t one of our best games.”