116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON — Class 1A No. 11 Solon used a suffocating defense to blank Class 2A No. 14 Independence, 2-0, in girls’ soccer on Tuesday night at Spartan Stadium.
It was only the second loss of the season for the Mustangs (12-2, 9-2 Wamac), and the first time they've failed to score a goal.
“It was not our best possession effort of the year,” Independence Coach Shawn Conaway said. “If you control the ball, you control the game, and it just didn't click today.”
Solon (12-3, 8-2) managed to frustrate one of the top scorers in the state. Sophomore Easten Miller came into the game with 30 goals, and left with the same amount.
“It was a little bit frustrating,” Miller said. “They did a good job defending us.”
Solon Coach Amanda Paulson knew her team had to slow down Miller to slow down the Mustangs. So the Spartans deployed a “sweeper/stopper” defense.
“The stopper is the person that marks the girl, so they step to the ball,” Solon junior Morgan Link said. “The sweeper just drops in case the girl beats it.”
Independence only had a few legit chances at scoring, including a long-range bullet from freshman Addison Lange that Solon goalie Alex Paisley punched over the crossbar in the 50th minute.
Miller had her best chance a few minutes later, but didn't get a good foot on the ball in front of the goal.
“By going sweeper/stopper, we were able to step to their No. 23 (Miller),” Paulson said.
The Spartans also got two early goals to put the pressure on the Mustangs.
The first came in the ninth minute, when Link sent a corner kick curving into a crowd, off Mustang goalie Lindsay Beyer's leg, and just inside the post.
“I was trying to get it in the air,” Link said. “Before I knew it, it went off her shin and went in.”
Link said she doesn't try to “Bend it like Beckham” with her corner kicks. Well, not very often.
“I've been starting to, but I've found that it is not working,” Link said. “So I might go back to just trying to kick it to the PK spot.”
Five minutes later, Solon freshman Elena Shawn found the ball at her feet during a scrum in front of the goal, and deposited it into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
“Those early goals were so important,” Paulson said. “It completely changed the energy of the game. Getting those goals lights a fire in you.”