If fans didn't believe in the Marshalltown girls soccer team before, that likely changed after what the Bobcats accomplished on Monday night.
The Bobcats earned their first win over a Central Iowa Conference foe this season when they scored twice in the second half during a 2-0 win over Urbandale at Leonard Cole Field. It was a far cry from last year when the J-Hawks blanked MHS, 4-0.
"Winning is always better than losing," Marshalltown senior captain Megan Major said. "We are a completely different team than last year. We have all the same players, but it is nice to see this team gel. Getting some wins is nice and we hope it continues."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown Morgan Gardalen (9) brings in a pass in front of an Urbandale defender during the first half of Monday’s Central Iowa Conference girls’ soccer match at Leonard Cole Field. Gardalen scored the game’s first goal as the Bobcats prevailed 2-0.
Major put the match away for the Bobcats when she knocked in a penalty kick with 26 minutes to go. That followed a goal by Morgan Gardalen in the 50th minute.
"We worked hard, that's what it came down to. We got in our head that we were going to out-work them," MHS coach Allie Osmundson said. "I told them at halftime that this game was going to come down to one play and it might be a 50-50 ball or something like that. We had to make sure we were working hard on every play and we did that tonight."
The match was scoreless at halftime. But Marshalltown needed just 10 minutes to score in the second half.
Gardalen's shot from outside was misplayed by the J-Hawk goalkeeper Kyla Inderski and then slowly rolled past the line to put the Bobcats up 1-0.
There was some confusion after the game as to who scored the goal for the Bobcats because Lexi Vaughn was tackled by Inderski just in front of the net. But the ball appeared to roll in on its own power following Gardalen's shot. Either way, the Bobcats claimed an advantage.
"We want to shoot the ball to the goalie," Osmundson said. "If we shoot it 10 times to the keeper, there is that one chance that they might drop it. There is always a chance that it goes in. It was a really good play."
The head official said after the match that if Gardalen's shot did not roll in, the Bobcats would have been given a penalty kick anyway after Inderski's foul on Vaughn.
There was a penalty four minutes later though as Gardalen got loose in the open field and was tackled from behind in the box by Taylor Evans. Evans was given a yellow card on the play, and Major put the ball past Inderski for the 2-0 lead.
"I just stay focused. I only think about the spot of where I am going to kick the ball," said Major of her penalty kick strategy. "I try to stay calim, I don't think too much and keep a blank mind."
Major put in the shot, but the penalty kick was set up by Gardalen's speed, which gave Urbandale trouble all night.
"I thought Morgan played really well," Osmundson said. "She was able to get behind the defense with her speed, and she was aggressive. That is what we ask out of her."
Osmundson said Major doesn't take all of the team's penalty kicks but came through Monday when she was given the opportunity.
"She isn't our designated penalty kick person but she is definitely someone we ask to take those shots for us," Osmundson said. "She is our senior leader so we wanted her to step up and hit it today. She is confident in that situation, too."
The two goals stood up against the J-Hawks because the Bobcat defense turned away every opportunity Urbandale had.
The J-Hawks out-shot MHS 8-2 in the second half but came away empty on the scoreboard as Amanda Hughes had six saves in the win.
"(Hughes) had some good saves and kept us in the game," Osmundson said. "The defense played well. We were stepping to the ball right away and we marked better in the middle."
Last year was not a lot of fun for the Bobcats, but they have already more than doubled their wins from a season ago, improving to 7-3 after the victory. The Bobcats went just 3-15 last year.
"We had potential last year, but we have grown mentally and are much more mentally tough this season," said Major, who now has three goals on the season. "We are ready to face those teams we lost to last year."
The Bobcats will look to avenge another loss from last year when they travel to Mason City on Thursday. The Mohawks beat MHS 2-1 a season ago. ... Gardalen, Major and Vaughn now all have three goals to lead the Bobcats. ... Urbandale was given two yellow cards in the second half. ... The Bobcats won the match despite being out-shot 11-8. The J-Hawks also had an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks. ... The Bobcat freshmen lost 3-1 and the junior varsity was blanked 4-0. Aye Nu Wyn scored the lone goal in the freshmen match.