CENTER POINT — The Cedar Rapids Prairie girls’ soccer team won a total of six matches last season.
At this rate, the current Hawks might double that number.
“I just feel that the girls are really listening to what I am telling them to do,” first-year Prairie Coach Scott Lennon said after the Class 3A 10th-ranked Hawks blanked 1A No. 3 Center Point-Urbana, 1-0, in a non-conference match Thursday at Fross Park. “I’ve got a good group of girls right now and they’ve got the ability to play at the highest level within the state. I am just letting them do what they do best right now.”
The Prairie players give a lot of credit for their turnaround to Lennon, a 30-year-old Englishman who moved to Iowa last year from St. Louis — where he coached a club team — to continue his education and be a graduate assistant coach with the Mount Mercy women’s soccer team.
Lennon has directed Prairie (5-1) to its best start in at least a decade.
“He really pushes us to be our best,” Prairie junior forward Bailey Burlingham said. “He knows what formation, who works good where and he has really used our strengths, our abilities and really cut out a lot of weaknesses.”
Burlingham broke a scoreless tie with her team-high fourth goal of the season in the 48th minute off a pass from junior Lily Powell.
“I have just been falling into a lot of good crosses,” Burlingham said. “Recognizing when they are going to cross it in and where I need to be and doing whatever I can to get on it.”
The victory over CPU (4-2) is the third over a ranked opponent this season for Prairie, which already owns wins over three teams — Jefferson, Dubuque Hempstead, Kennedy — that it lost to in the regular season last year.
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Only unbeaten 3A No. 5 Linn-Mar got past the Hawks so far this season, and needed penalty kicks to do so.
“It has definitely helped us improve our confidence,” Prairie junior defender Jenna Leggat said. “We feel like we can do more than we have ever been able to do.”
Prairie will visit Iowa City West on Tuesday, while CPU hosts South Tama.
AT CENTER POINT
Class 3A No. 10 Cedar Rapids Prairie 1, 1A No. 3 Center Point-Urbana 0
Goal — Bailey Burlingham (4). Assist — Lily Powell (2).
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