MARION — Grace Coates is proving difficult to stop with the ball at her feet.
With an imposing combination of speed, power and athleticism that belies her age, the Marion freshman continues to pile up prodigious numbers in a special girls’ soccer season for the Indians.
“I’ve just gotten used to playing with this team,” Coates said after scoring two goals in a 4-2 victory for the sixth-ranked Indians over Mount Vernon in a Class 2A regional semifinal Tuesday at Marion High School. ”I just really like the way that we work together. When I’m open, I’m able to take a shot.”
Coates got Marion (13-1) on the scoreboard in the 14th minute when she fielded an assist from sophomore Kayba Laube and drove the ball past the Mount Vernon goalkeeper. After the Mustangs tied the game at 1-1 three minutes later with an Emma Rodman score off an Izzy Steele assist, Coates gave the Indians the lead for good with a goal off a second Laube assist with less than seven minutes until halftime.
“Extremely strong, just sees the field really well,” Marion Coach Erik Trilk said of Coates. “The vision on the field and the strength that she exudes is what is most impressive.”
Monday was the sixth time in the last seven games that Coates has scored at least two goals, including three 4-goal efforts. Coates has 19 goals during that span and her season total of 26 ranks sixth in 2A and 11th overall in the state, just ahead of senior teammate Naomi Smith, who has 24 goals this season.
“It’s pretty nice for us to have a kid like this where they really do have to take two defenders and put it on here, which then opens up our other 24-goal scorer,” Trilk said. “Those two work together. To have two kids like that, it makes coaching very easy.”
Second-half goals by sophomore Corrina Dittmer and freshman Ana Schuttloffel pushed the Marion lead to 4-1 before freshman Sydney Shultz scored in the closing seconds for Mount Vernon, which ends its season at 10-7.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
With the victory, Marion set a school record for single-season wins and is within a game of qualifying for the state tournament for the first time in school history. The Indians will host No. 11 Cedar Rapids Xavier (9-6) in a regional final Monday at 5.
“Keep playing how we’re playing,” Coates said. “Working together, finding each other and getting tough along the net.”
CLASS 2A REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
No. 6 Marion 4, Mount Vernon 2
Goals — MV: Emma Rodman 1 (15), Sydney Shultz 1 (13); MAR: Grace Coates 2 (26), Corrina Dittmer 1 (4), Ana Schuttloffel 1 (1). Assists — MV: Izzy Steele 1 (4); MAR: Kayba Laube 2 (13).
l Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org