TIFFIN — Last season, a young Clear Creek Amana girls’ soccer team absorbed some early defeats before closing with eight wins in 10 matches.
That marked improvement has continued into 2019, where the Clippers are surging at the right time of year.
“A lot of it comes down to some of the hits we had to take last year,” CCA Coach Matt Harding said after the Clippers overwhelmed Washington (Iowa), 8-0, in a Class 2A regional quarterfinal Thursday night at Clear Creek Amana High School. “We were really young and all 20 girls on the roster had to play last year against some really good teams. We took some heavy losses, but they all gained confidence that they could play. So now this year, when we need to go to the bench to give the starters a breather, I am comfortable with the players coming in being able to play the way they need to. I think that has helped out a lot, especially here late in the season.”
Another big help has been the emergence of sophomore forward/midfielder Lauren Riggle, who scored three times — her second hat trick this season — and leads the Clippers with 19 goals, which ranks 14th in 2A.
“Everyone this year wants it so bad compared to last year,” said Riggle, who also leads CCA with 14 assists. “It just feels like we are so much closer than we were last year. We are just so confident with each other. The seniors push us to do our best.”
Riggle has provided a powerful complement to junior forward Carsyn Gallagher, who was a first team all-Wamac selection last season when she posted a team-high 17 goals.
“We have talked new movement in practices,” Gallagher said. “It really just gives her space to come in and shoot and make runs for me to just check off and pass to her. It is really good. We have played together throughout our whole lives, so we know how to play with each other. We just have that connection.”
Gallagher opened the scoring with a goal in the 17th minute, her 16th this season. Senior Lexi Schau scored twice, while sophomores Eliza Evans and Avery Woodward each scored for the third time this season.
Washington ends its season at 8-9.
CCA (13-4) — winners of six matches in a row — will travel across the state Tuesday for a regional semifinal at No. 13 Bondurant-Farrar (10-7). Win there, and the Clippers will be one win away from the first state-tournament berth in school history with their third regional final in Harding’s seven years as coach, which includes 95 wins.
“We just need to stay focused,” Riggle said. “Keep the goal in mind. We know we want it, we just have to work our best to get there.”
CLASS 2A REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
Clear Creek Amana 8, Washington (Iowa) 0
Goals — Lauren Riggle 3 (19), Lexi Schau 2 (5), Carsyn Gallagher (16), Eliza Evans (3), Avery Woodward (3). Assists — Lauren Riggle 2 (14), Eliza Evans (4), Carsyn Gallagher (5).
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