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Early experience pays off for goalkeeper Anna Kimball, Linn-Mar girls' soccer

3A No. 8 Lions (8-1, 7-1 MVC) defeat Iowa City High, 3-2

IOWA CITY — For Anna Kimball, the realization that her place on the soccer field was in goal was an eye-opener.

“Almost right away,” the Linn-Mar junior goalkeeper said after the Class 3A eighth-ranked Lions defeated Iowa City High, 3-2, in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ soccer game Friday at Iowa City High School. “I always loved to get dirty, so it was for me from the beginning.”

Kimball received her varsity indoctrination sooner than even she probably expected. She was called into action last season when 3A all-state selection Allie Strottman tore her anterior cruciate knee ligament with five games left in the regular season.

“They were really big shoes to fill,” Kimball said. “It was unfortunate for her, but I’m happy I got the opportunity.”

Kimball posted a shutout in her first varsity start as the Lions won three of their final five games before being bounced by Dubuque Hempstead, 1-0, in a regional semifinal. The experience proved to be a vital springboard for Kimball, who began this season with six shutouts in eight games.

“The speed of play in varsity games is definitely a lot faster than what I’ve been used to,” Kimball said. “So it helped me get used to that.”

The Linn-Mar offense staked Kimball to a 3-0 first-half lead with a goal by freshman forward Hallie Peak and two from sophomore forward Piper Carey.

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In addition to height in the 5-10, 5-11 range, improved footwork and communication, Kimball revealed the one vital attribute of any good goalkeeper when she allowed two late goals that cut the Linn-Mar lead to one.

A short memory.

“They’re frustrating, but in the end they’re just two goals,” Kimball said. “It’s not a big deal.”

Peak leads Linn-Mar (8-1, 7-1 MVC) with six goals this season despite missing more than two full games due to injury. Carey is now second with five scores, while freshman forward Leah Ahlers and sophomore midfielder Allison Post each distributed an assist.

“There’s a lot of different people that have a high skill level,” Peak said. “Teams can’t just pinpoint one person. They have to worry about us all.”

Iowa commit Sam Schroder scored her first goal of the season for City High (5-5, 4-3), which lost its fourth game in a row. Junior Deanna Richardson added a goal for the Little Hawks with just over eight minutes left in the game.

City High hosts Dubuque Wahlert on Tuesday, while Linn-Mar visits No. 10 Bettendorf Saturday.

“We’re playing well,” Linn-Mar Coach Marco de Leon said. “It feels like we’re improving each game, so that is a good feeling.”

AT IOWA CITY HIGH

Class 3A No. 8 Linn-Mar 3, Iowa City High 2

Goals — LM: Hallie Peak 1 (6), Piper Carey 2 (5); ICH: Sam Schroder 1 (1), Deanna Richardson 1 (1). Assists — LM: Leah Ahlers 1 (1), Allison Post 1 (2).

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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