MARION — Kaitlyn Brunson missed the last three weeks with illness.
“I still get tired pretty easily,” the freshman said. “But when I’m in, I go hard.”
First game back. First goal of the season.
Brunson took a feed from classmate Emma Casebolt and knocked it home with 27:04 remaining in the game, and that was the difference-maker in 12th-ranked Linn-Mar’s 1-0 triumph over Dubuque Senior in a Class 3A girls’ soccer regional semifinal Wednesday night at Linn-Mar Stadium.
“It was the right time, and I was at the right place,” Brunson said. “I was open on the backside, and the defender wasn’t there.”
Brunson was, then so was the ball, thanks to Casebolt.
“I got a great ball from Abigail (Santana), and I saw her out of the corner of my eye on the back post,” Casebolt said.
Linn-Mar (13-5) advances to Monday’s regional final against No. 10 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (12-3) at Kingston Stadium. The winner heads to the state tournament.
Kennedy edged the Lions in the regular season in a game determined by penalty kicks.
“It’s going to be a great game,” Brunson said. “We need to play like it’s the last game we’ll play.”
Wednesday’s final was somewhat misleading. Linn-Mar dictated play throughout, both in field position and opportunities.
The Lions enjoyed an advantage in shots (17-3) and shots on goal (10-1).
Finally, Brunson cashed in.
“It’s really special,” she said.
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Casebolt’s assist was her second of the season. She was about 20 yards out from the right side when she spotted Brunson in the box.
Linn-Mar earned its ninth shutout of the season, its third in a row. That includes a 2-0 win over Senior on April 20.
Senior did not take a shot in the second half and retired at 10-7.
LINN-MAR 1, DUBUQUE SENIOR 0
At Linn-Mar Stadium
Goals: LM: Kaitlyn Brunson (1, 52:56). Assists: LM: Emma Casebolt (2).
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