CEDAR RAPIDS — An early loss put the Cedar Rapids Xavier girls’ soccer team in a hole in the Mississippi Valley Conference race.
In order to catch ranked 3A squads like Cedar Rapids Prairie, Dubuque Senior and Iowa City High, the Class 2A No. 5 Saints knew they could not sustain another division loss.
There were none.
“That has always been a goal of mine since I have been here,” third-year Xavier Coach Chris Higgins said after the Saints earned a share of the MVC Mississippi Division crown with a 3-0 shutout of 3A No. 14 Dubuque Senior Monday at Heco Field. “And we have always been one game away that kind of let us down. … We gave ourselves a mountain to climb, but we just took it one game at a time.”
Xavier (11-4, 6-1) won its last six division contests after an April 13 loss to Prairie (12-2, 6-1), which claimed the other half of the title with a 2-0 victory over Cedar Rapids Washington last Thursday.
The division title is the first for Xavier since 2013, the last year of its eight straight state championships.
“We just knew what we had to do and we did it,” Xavier senior defender Avery Campbell said. “We had three days off because of the weather and so I wasn’t sure how we were going to show up. We showed up and we did the job.”
After a scoreless first half, Xavier freshman Mary Kate Moeder posted her eighth goal of the season in the 45th minute with a strike that ricocheted off a Dubuque Senior defender and into the goal. Junior Quinn Hanigan tacked on a pair of insurance goals and now has 10 this season.
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Dubuque Senior could have earned a share of the division with a victory, but instead dropped to 12-4 overall, 5-2 in the MVC.
After closing the regular season Tuesday at home against Dubuque Hempstead, the Saints begin their quest for a 16th state tournament berth in the last 17 years when they host a 2A regional semifinal on May 28 against the winner of DeWitt Central and Davenport North.
“We are ready,” Campbell said. “We are peaking at the right time and I think that we can go a long way.”
AT HECO FIELD
Class 2A No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier 3, 2A No. 14 Dubuque Senior 0
Goals — Mary Kate Moeder (8), Quinn Hanigan 2 (10). Assists — Brielle Bastian (4), Caitlynn Daniels (14).
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