Prep Soccer

Undefeated Linn-Mar girls' soccer team off to best start since 2014

Lions hope fourth win over a ranked team allows them to host a postseason regional

Linn-Mar’s Hallie Peak (second on right) is greeted by Hannah Garcia (right) as she runs with Abigail Santana (left) and Piper Carey (second on left) during a girls’ soccer match last season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar’s Hallie Peak (second on right) is greeted by Hannah Garcia (right) as she runs with Abigail Santana (left) and Piper Carey (second on left) during a girls’ soccer match last season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

MARION — When the girls’ soccer regional pairings are released next week, Linn-Mar is hoping to be a host school.

A convincing case was made Friday night.

“They were determined,” Linn-Mar Coach Marco de Leon said after the Class 3A fifth-ranked Lions manhandled No. 9 Pleasant Valley, 5-2, in a top-10 tussle at Linn-Mar Stadium. “They just really wanted it. They realized how important this game was for us, so the fire was there from the beginning of the game to the end.”

At 9-0, Linn-Mar is off to its best start since the 2014 team won its first 18 matches.

Junior forward Piper Carey — a first team all-state selection last season and Illinois State commit — got the scoring started by winning one-on-one battles, first with a PV defender and then the goalkeeper, for a score in the 38th minute. Sophomore forward Hallie Peak gave Linn-Mar a 2-0 lead with a goal less than a minute before the halftime horn.

Peak leads the Lions with nine goals this season, the same number she posted as a freshman.

“I think I have more confidence now,” Peak said. “I am being more physical and just trusting my skills and it has really helped me out this season.”

Less than two minutes into the second half, first team all-state midfielder Abigail Santana scored off a corner kick, the eighth goal this season for the Creighton recruit. The Linn-Mar lead ballooned to 4-0 after Carey added her second goal of the game in the 55th minute, which doubled her season total to four this season.

“We have some really good players all around,” de Leon said. “And some very dynamic players up top, too.”

In the waning minutes of the match, a goal from Linn-Mar sophomore forward Leah Ahlers was sandwiched between a pair of Pleasant Valley strikes that prevented a shutout.

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Linn-Mar has scored at least two goals in every match this year and has defeated four ranked teams (Ames, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Xavier and Pleasant Valley). Linn-Mar will host Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Tuesday. Pleasant Valley is now 6-3.

“We all have amazing talent and we are just working together,” Peak said. “As long as we are jelling together as a team, we are going to do great.”

Girls’ soccer

Class 3A No. 5 Linn-Mar 5, No. 9 Pleasant Valley 2

Goals — PV: Natalie Aller (4), Ellie Scranton (4); LM: Piper Carey 2 (4), Hallie Peak (9), Abigail Santana (8), Leah Ahlers (4).

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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