116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – They played a preseason scrimmage against each other back in April that ended in a tie.
But that was two months ago. This was the postseason, and it’s Cedar Rapids Xavier.
Four different players scored goals, and the eighth-ranked Saints dominated the second half to stop No. 10 Mount Vernon, 4-1, Friday night in a Class 2A girls’ soccer regional final.
Even though it has been two years, with the pandemic canceling everything last season, the defending champs are still defending. And then some.
“We have the mindset that we know people are out to get us,” said Xavier’s Mary Clare Bean. “We know we’re the ones to beat. So we’ve just got to make sure we stay calm and take care of business.”
Bean’s goal at the side of the net off a nifty Brielle Bastian box feed put Xavier (13-5) ahead 10 minutes in and came kind of against the run of play. Mount Vernon (16-3) seemed to have more possession time in the first half and more chances.
But the second half was a totally different story. Bastian scored on a penalty kick just 3:15 into the second half to more or less put this one away.
Ella Kluesner scored eight minutes later, and Amanda Ross scored directly off a corner kick with 22:10 left.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” said Xavier Coach Chris Higgins. “We’ve had some hard games this season … We’ve played that hard schedule, so we’re ready for games like this. We’re healthy, knock on wood. I think we’ll be a handful for anyone (at the state tournament).”
Xavier paid extra special, close attention to Mount Vernon star striker Maia Bentley, seeming to surround her at all times and not give her much room. Bentley did score her 48th goal of the season with just over four minutes to go, an amazing total.
That aforementioned scrimmage gave Xavier a really good indication of Bentley’s prowess considering she scored three goals in a 3-3 tie.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” Higgins said. “We didn’t know ‘Oh, we’re going to play them later on again.’ But it was a lesson coming into this game.”
“Definitely we started to struggle with keeping up pace,” Mount Vernon Coach Jenna Hindman said. “They just did well breaking us down. But I think we still fought hard to the end. We showed a lot of heart scoring that goal at the end of the game. Proud of their fight.”
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