CEDAR RAPIDS — After losing three games in five days and scoring just one goal, Chris Higgins decided to change up the practice plan this week.
The Cedar Rapids Xavier girls’ soccer coach placed a premium on offense, then prepared some players for new roles and reserves for more time to keep his roster fresh.
All paid off in a big way on Tuesday.
“We had to use our bench a lot today,” Higgins said after the Class 2A sixth-ranked Saints snapped a three-game losing skid, 2-1, against 3A No. 13 Iowa City High in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ soccer game Tuesday at Heco Field. “You could tell we had heavy legs, especially in the first half. We used our bench. The freshmen came in and gave us a little buzz and everyone fed off of that.”
After starting at defender and center midfielder earlier this season, freshman Amanda Ross moved to left midfielder and broke a scoreless tie in the 16th minute with a dribble and strike for her first varsity goal.
“I just pulled it back, did a good shot and it went in,” Ross said.
Ten minutes later, freshman reserve Karly Weiss fielded a strong crossing pass from the left side by sophomore reserve forward Quinn Hanigan and found the back of the net for a 2-0 Xavier advantage.
“I just happened to be there to finish it,’ Weiss said.
Before Tuesday, City High (5-2, 4-1) had held four opponents in a row scoreless and had not allowed a goal since the opening weekend of the season.
The Little Hawks cut the deficit in half at 2-1 when senior forward Sydney DePrenger scored her third goal of the season off an assist from Iowa commit Sam Schroder.
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A few last-gasp City High offensive chances to tie were stymied by the Xavier defense. The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Little Hawks.
Xavier visits Dubuque Wahlert on Thursday, while City High visits Prairie.
“I think going forward we’ll have a lot more confidence because we know we can work as a team,” Weiss said.
AT HECO FIELD
Class 2A No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier 2, 3A No. 13 Iowa City High 1
Goals — CRX: Amanda Ross 1 (1), Karly Weiss 1 (1); ICH: Sydney DePrenger 1 (3). Assists — CRX: Quinn Hanigan 1 (2); ICH: Sam Schroder 1 (1).
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