Bobcats beat Indianola, snap four-game skid

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • Marshalltown’s Macy Goecke, left, fires a shot by Grinnell’s Helena Strenzel, right, during the second half of Saturday’s game at the Spring Creek Soccer Complex in Altoona. The Bobcats fell 2-0 to the Tigers.

ALTOONA — Despite being drained to empty, a three-game tournament at the Spring Creek Soccer Complex was just what the Bobcat girls’ soccer team needed to yield some success that had been eluding them for most of the season.

Just 13 hours after a 10-0 loss to No. 7 Dowling Catholic, the Marshalltown girls (2-10) rebounded with a 1-0 win against Indianola in their first game of the day. And even though the final two matches resulted in losses — 2-1 to Pella Christian and 2-0 to Grinnell — the Bobcats still showcased their improvements throughout the five-hour tournament.

The loss to Grinnell was the final match of the tournament, and featured two fairly equal and competitive teams. Grinnell touted size and expertise in the goal with senior Katie Cooper, while Marshalltown used speed and offensive attack power.

The offensive half of the field hadn’t seen much action in the recent weeks, with three tough foes in Ankeny, Johnston and Dowling Catholic all on the schedule. The 1-0 win against Indianola was the first time the Bobcats had a goal since beating Mason City 3-1 on April 28.

“It’s no secret we’re not an offensive team or one that’s going to score a lot,” said MHS head coach Stacy Galema. “So, we’re going to enjoy it every time we have it. Today we did a much better job getting up and helping on offense, so they were a little more comfortable taking shots, rather than just being one-on-one.”

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • Marshalltown’s Ashtyn Fuller (4) attmpets to maneuver her way through Grinnell defenders Catherine Cogley (5) and Helena Strenzel (15) in the second half of their contest Saturday at the Spring Creek Soccer Complex. The Bobcats fell to the Tigers 2-0.

The Bobcats recorded six corner kicks to Grinnell’s zero in game three of the afternoon. That says as much about the defense as it does the offense.

Time and time again, the Bobcats had the looks they wanted after cashing in on some mistakes by Tiger midfielders or defensemen. But on four different occasions against the Tigers, opportunities were nullified because of offside penalties. Galema said a lot of that has to do with the inability to run their offense against teams like the Hawks, Dragons and Maroons, at game speed for the past couple weeks.

All of a sudden on Saturday, the Bobcats were getting to apply what they had been working on in practice, in games.

“This field is a lot wider than our field, so we were taking advantage of spreading out,” said senior defenseman Aspen Chadderdon. “We possessed the ball a lot more than we usually do. It’s nice to see our offensive half have a little more possession time than having so much of it on the defensive end.”

In all, the Marshalltown offense got eight shots off — to Grinnell’s eight as well — and landed all eight on goal. The Tigers put seven shots on goal, with MHS goalkeeper Victoria Johnson recording five saves.

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • McKenna Major fires a cross toward the Grinnell goal during the first half of Saturday’s contest at the Spring Creek Soccer Complex in Altoona. Major had the lone goal in the Bobcats’ 1-0 win against Indianola, and again in a 2-1 loss to Pella Christian in the three-game tournament. The Bobcats fell 2-0 to Grinnell.

The Bobcats had the conversation about playing in four games in less than a 24-hour time span after an exhausting match with Dowling Catholic on Friday night. They knew picking the right time to go after a free ball and make a run downfield, and when to conserve energy was going to be a critical factor in being competitive Saturday.

“We were able to challenge them, the teams we played today,” Galema said. “Every game was competitive. Every game we had opportunities. I know they were tied after yesterday, so coming and especially playing on turf, it drains you a lot. We had a couple playing the whole time, all three today and [Friday]. But they expect that.”

Chadderdon said the Bobcats are recognizing that success is at the doorstep. With three games left in the regular season against opponents who are a collective 11-21 — according to Quikstats on Saturday night — Marshalltown has been handed the opportunity to come away with more wins and accomplish a few more goals before the postseason. Execution will be the final test.

“On the corners, it’s just a matter of getting in front of whoever is marking them up,” Chadderdon said. “And once we do that, just making sure we’re not shooting right at the goalie. Because a lot of the time our shots are going straight toward the goalie, instead of hitting the corners.”

Marshalltown will have a chance to put its skills to the test against Des Moines Lincoln (4-7) on Tuesday night at home.