CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Kennedy girls’ soccer team was anxious to display its true self.
Prior to their first game, the Cougars were ranked fourth in the IGHSAU Class 3A poll. A startling loss to the newly-formed Waterloo cooperative team comprised of players from Waterloo East and Waterloo West — programs that combined for 10 wins and 174 losses over the past six seasons — left Kennedy tumbling in the rankings and scrambling for answers.
“That loss really pushed us to work harder,” Kennedy junior midfielder Jennifer Schmidt said after the 11th-ranked Cougars defeated Cedar Falls, 3-1, in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ soccer game Thursday at Coe College’s Clark Field. “I think it is what we really needed. Now, our chemistry is coming back better than ever.”
Schmidt displayed some of that effective chemistry with a pair of first-half assists to junior forward Nikole Slinger, who posted two goals in her first start of the season.
“Especially with Jennifer on the outside, I think she crosses in the lot really well,” Slinger said. “I was really excited. It was an opportunity to score.”
After stewing on the Waterloo loss for four days, Kennedy (2-1, 2-1 MVC) rebounded with a 4-0 victory at then-No. 11 Iowa City West. A second win has the Cougars feeling as if they have figured some things out.
“They respond pretty well,” Kennedy Coach Homer Screws said. “Our fitness is down playing in the gym. The weather has been tough. We’re not even close to game fit, so I think we’ll get there. I definitely think we’re going to be a threat as we get near the end of the season.”
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Senior Meg Kuntz scored scored her fourth goal of the season just before halftime for Cedar Falls (2-5, 2-2 MVC).
With less than four minutes left in the game, Kennedy got its insurance goal when sophomore forward Amurie Coder scored for the first time this season off an assist from junior midfielder Grace Walker.
Kennedy hosts sixth-ranked Linn-Mar Tuesday at Clark Field.
AT CLARK FIELD
Class 3A No. 11 Cedar Rapids Kennedy 3, Cedar Falls 1
Goals — CRK: Nikole Slinger 2 (2), Amurie Coder 1 (1); CF: Meg Kuntz 1 (4). Assists — CRK: Jennifer Schmidt 2 (2), Grace Walker 1 (1).
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