DES MOINES — The penalty shootout didn’t go Iowa City Regina’s way May 21, and the Regals had no desire to take their chances at another.
Lauren Gaarde drilled an 82nd-minute winner just under the crossbar and No. 8 Regina moved on with a 2-1 overtime win over No. 3 Nevada in a Class 1A girls’ state soccer quarterfinal Thursday at Cownie Soccer Park.
“We know we don’t want to go into PKs,” Gaarde said. “We know we can get it done in 80 minutes.”
Or 80 minutes and a few extra seconds. Claire Conlon intercepted an attempted clearance and fired a one-touch pass to Gaarde, who looked up at the edge of the box and saw an opening. Grace Francis made nine saves in the match, but couldn’t reach this one.
As such, the Regals (11-7) will meet No. 9 Sioux City Heelan (12-7) in an 11:15 a.m. semifinal Friday.
“I hadn’t really had the chance this game to be wide open, so I just took a shot and it went in,” Gaarde said.
A regular-season meeting with the Cubs (15-5) was also tied 1-1 after 80 minutes, but 20 scoreless minutes led to a shootout that can be a fortuitous way to decide a game.
After Regina dominated possession Thursday and got an equalizer via Gaarde winning a one-on-one ball in the box and scoring low in the 60th minute, the message was clear.
“(Gaarde) said, ‘I’m over this,’ in less than two minutes,” Regina Coach Ann Larew said. “We were absolutely thrilled not to play anymore. We’re good.”
Most players are going to be tired in overtime of a game played in the middle of a sunny, 85-degree day. But Regina still won almost every ball throughout the match. As fatigue clearly set in for Nevada, the Regals didn’t any let tired legs affect their style.
Nevada had difficulty stringing any number of passes together and attempted just three shots. But the Cubs went up 1-0 in the 30th minute when a free kick wasn’t cleared and Meredith Harter scored on a virtually empty net. A few minutes later, Hattie Rhodes’ free kick hit the crossbar, but the Regals didn’t play desperate, instead continuing to work the ball from the back and take long-range shots against an imposing backline.
It was a different story than last year’s 9-0 quarterfinal loss to top-ranked Davenport Assumption, when an avalanche fell on a young Regina team. Larew believed superior conditioning was a factor this year.
“I think that made a big difference,” Larew said. “We can look out there and see these teams look like they’re physically fatigued. That’s not how they win or lose. They win or lose by staying focused mentally. I think because they were in better condition physically, then they were able to keep their head in the game.”
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