MARION — After beginning the season as an outside midfielder, Jo Hartke asked Marion girls’ soccer coach Erik Trilk what she needed to do to earn a spot in the middle.
Trilk provided a very specific list of tasks, all of which were eagerly accepted by Hartke. Her move to center midfielder has the Indians on the cusp of the first state tournament appearance in school history.
“Work ethic,” Trilk said after Hartke scored three goals in a 4-1 victory for the No. 10 Indians over Iowa City Liberty in a Class 2A regional semifinal Wednesday at Marion High School. “Work ethic, work ethic, work ethic. She is the hardest worker. She is the kid that is out on the practice field first every day. She stays after. She consistently has a ball at her feet juggling. … She is one of the hardest-working kids I have ever coached.”
After the match was suspended Tuesday due to weather tied at 1-1, play resumed from that point Wednesday.
“We were just kind of getting into a rhythm after being down 1-0,” Hartke said. “I was really concerned that we wouldn’t be able to keep that rhythm going when we got out here today. We just kind of kept it up and we continued to play like we ended yesterday. I felt really good about that.”
Less than seven minutes into the second half, senior forward Naomi Smith gave the Indians a 2-1 lead with her 25th goal this season. Hartke tacked on a pair of insurance goals to cement the outcome.
After scoring one goal as a sophomore reserve last season, Hartke is now third on the team with 14 goals, behind two of the state leaders in Smith and Grace Coates (26).
“I think we all complement each other really well,” Hartke said.
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After surrendering a goal to Liberty junior Briana Ervin in the first three minutes of the match, the Marion defense held the Lightning scoreless the remainder of the way.
“We just told ourselves that we need to play collectively better as a team,” Marion senior defender Leah Van Weelden said. “More communication, better passing. We just need to calm down and play as aggressive and as smart as we can.”
Liberty ends its season at 7-11.
Marion (13-2) will visit No. 8 Burlington Notre Dame/West Burlington/Danville (14-2) in Monday’s regional final. Win there, and the Indians have their coveted state berth.
“We really just need to stay in the rhythm that we are in right now,” Hartke said. “We need to really focus, obviously, and just continue to work hard and I think we will get there.”
CLASS 2A REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
No. 10 Marion 4, Iowa City Liberty 1
Goals — ICL: Briana Ervin (5); MAR: Jo Hartke 3 (14), Naomi Smith (25).
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