CEDAR RAPIDS — Every girls’ soccer team chasing a state championship has that one player who increasingly becomes a strong influence late in the season.
The Cedar Rapids Xavier girls have that in freshman forward Mary Kate Moeder.
“She will run through a brick wall for you,” Xavier Coach Chris Higgins said after the fifth-ranked Saints defeated No. 12 North Scott, 4-1, in a Class 2A regional final Monday at Heco Field. “And that is half of it. If you are willing to work hard, the technical stuff and the ability stuff will come. She will give 110 percent when she is on the field. They are a really physical team and as a freshman, she wasn’t afraid to get stuck in. Through hard work, you get your rewards and she got two goals today.”
Moeder opened the scoring with a goal in the ninth minute, then pushed the Xavier lead to 3-0 with a goal less than three minutes before halftime. She now has 11 goals in her last 11 matches, but none more important than the pair that helped send Xavier (14-4) to the state tournament for the 16th time in the last 17 years.
“My teammates have been great teammates for me,” Moeder said. “We all find each other and when our chemistry is on, which we had good chemistry, we can combine. I owe everything to my teammates. The balls they played today and all the time, I owe it to them.”
After not scoring a goal until the eighth match of the season, this was was the fourth multi-goal performance for Moeder, which includes her first career hat trick May 10 at Western Dubuque.
“At the beginning of the season, coaches knew what I was capable of and I did too,” Moeder said. “I was really working towards that. … I was struggling with my confidence early in the year, then once I got that (first goal), I think it was just up from there. I know that since I am capable of that, I am capable of so much more, too.”
Back on April 20, North Scott (11-8) and Xavier were tied at 1-1 through regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods. While the Saints prevailed that day on penalty kicks, the rematch was much less of a contest thanks to a stifling Xavier defense that held the Lancers scoreless until the score was 4-0.
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“Us seniors, we only had one game left,” said Xavier senior defender and team captain Abbi Westhoff. “We wanted to just get them this time. This is my last year, and so we really took it to heart to not give up any goals.”
Moeder became the third Xavier player to reach double figures in goals scored this season. Team scoring leaders Caitlynn Daniels (15 goals) and Brielle Bastian (12) also tallied scores against North Scott. Throw in nine goals from junior Quinn Hanigan, and the versatile Saints will be tough to defend when the state tournament begins Thursday with a quarterfinal round match at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines.
“That is huge,” Higgins said. “We’re not relying on one person. We’ve got a few different people. If someone is not having a good game, someone else can step up. We have not really had that the past two years, so that is real strength going into the tournament.”
Higgins believe this is the deepest and healthiest his team has been in his three seasons as head coach, and his players agree.
“This is the best team that I have had personally,” Westhoff said. “I think we can really do some damage at state this year.”
CLASS 2A REGIONAL FINAL
At Heco Field
No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier 4, No. 12 North Scott 1
Goals — NS: Paige Blaskovich (9); CRX: Mary Kate Moeder 2 (11), Caitlynn Daniels (15), Brielle Bastian (12).
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