DES MOINES — When asked by a reporter what she would remember most about her team, third-year Iowa City Regina girls’ soccer coach Ann Larew needed a moment to compose herself.
After all, a group with nine seniors that impacted multiple sports and helped Regina extend its girls’ soccer state tournament streak to seven years is difficult to sum up in just a few words.
“This is just a fantastic group,” Larew said after the sixth-seeded Regals were defeated by No. 7 Sioux City Heelan, 1-0, in a Class 1A state semifinal Friday at Cownie Soccer Park. “Not only are they great soccer players, that’s just secondary to what they are. They’re great teammates. They’re just great people who give of themselves on the soccer field and in the rest of their lives. They are great leaders.”
Regina (11-8) ended its season in the state semifinals for the third time in five years. The Regals have reached the state championship game one time, a 1-0 loss to Davenport Assumption two years ago.
After a scoreless first half, Heelan freshman Grace Mahoney fielded an assist from junior Ashlyn Peck, lined up a long-distance shot and drilled it past the Regina goalkeeper in the 45th minute.
“After I got a good pass, I just went for it,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney has become a bit of an unlikely hero for the Crusaders. She now has two goals in two state tournament games as her goal off a corner kick helped Heelan win the quarterfinal over No. 2 Gilbert on Thursday.
At the beginning of the season, Mahoney did not earn a spot on the varsity roster. As her game improved, she was elevated and saw varsity action for the first time in the 10th game of the season.
Mahoney did not score in any of the nine games played before the state tournament.
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“They’ve got to come some time,” first-year Heelan Coach Clark Charlestin said with a laugh. “She is one of the girls that I would say is a late bloomer. … As the season goes on she kind of stepped up every day and now here she is.”
As startling as the goal was, Larew sensed no panic from her Regals.
“What we told them is, ‘We’ve played from behind before,’” Larew said. “Credit to them. We’ve had teams make a great shot and take it and we’ve been able to respond to them before. That wasn’t a complete game-changer.”
No school has been to the state tournament more than Heelan (17), which included a surge of 10 in a row from 2007-16.
After a 5-7 start, Heelan (13-7) has won eight games in a row. The Crusaders will appear in a state championship game for the fourth time when they face No. 1 Davenport Assumption (17-2) Saturday at 10 for the 1A title.
Assumption has won five of the last six 1A state championships. Only Heelan (2015) has interrupted that streak.
With no juniors on the roster, Regina will reload with an experienced group of current freshmen and sophomores.
“They have worked with these girls,” Larew said. “They have not been sitting on the bench in the sidelines in the secondary. They were never in the secondary, even last year. They were out front and center. They were all part of it, so I have no doubt that they can step up and take over.”
CLASS 1A STATE SEMIFINAL
No. 7 Sioux City Heelan 1, No. 6 Iowa City Regina 0
Goal — Grace Mahoney 1 (2). Assist — Ashlyn Peck 1 (3).
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