Another match, another MHS win

Bobcats 2-0 for first time since 2013

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown freshman forward Millie Heitmann (3) prepares to flick a shot back over her head for the go-ahead goal in the eighth minute of Thursday’s soccer match against Central Iowa United at Leonard Cole Field. Paige Ward (14) and Mailey Short (15) defend for CIU.

It sounds a little bit like coach speak, but Stacy Galema has reminded the Marshalltown girls’ soccer team a time or two that this is a new season and past results have no impact on the present.

Her Bobcats have proven her right every time out.

The MHS girls improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2013 with a 2-0 triumph over Central Iowa United on Thursday at Leonard Cole Field, collecting back-to-back victories to open the spring with more wins than each of the last three seasons.

With two shutout wins, the Bobcats (2-0) have avenged a seven-goal loss to Newton and a six-goal setback against Central Iowa United in sweeping fashion.

It marks Marshalltown’s first back-to-back wins since late in the 2018 campaign and the first 2-0 start since the Bobcats went 4-0 to open the 2013 season.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown junior midfielder Alexia Garcia, left, lines up a shot on goal against Central Iowa United defender Addison Turner during the second half of Thursday’s soccer match.

Why not? It’s a new season, after all.

“We always emphasize that every season is a new season and that’s how we approach every game with every opponent,” Galema said. “It doesn’t matter what you did last year. They’re a new team, we’re a new team. Go forward because obviously the two teams we’ve played so far beat us pretty handily in the past so we just kinda focus on what this team can do and focus on us.”

Marshalltown scored on just its second shot on goal in Thursday’s match, as freshman Millie Heitmann took a corner kick from Kenya Gomez Reyes and flicked it back up over her head from just beyond the penalty area. The ball hung in the air and curled under the crossbar, just beyond the reach of Central Iowa United goalkeeper Cassidy Smith for the icebreaker at the 7:42 mark of the first half.

The Bobcats peppered Smith throughout the match and even earned a penalty kick later in the opening half on a handball in the box. Gomez Reyes took the ball to the spot and sent a right-footed drive toward the upper 90 that careened off the crossbar and back into play.

Gomez Reyes eventually regained possession and dribbled with her left foot away from the middle of the field. When she finally found enough space, she spun a shot back inside the post beyond Smith’s reach for the 2-0 Bobcat lead at the 26:39 mark.

Marshalltown’s defense once again held firm as freshman goalkeeper Lilyia Christen recorded six saves for the team’s second consecutive shutout. Central Iowa United had few scoring opportunities, but none better than a wave of shots in the 61st minute. Christen denied two chances point-blank, and the last attempt in the series sailed over the net for a goal kick.

The Bobcats even played the second half without their best defender on defense. Junior Sara Huffman, playing in her last match of the season due to hip surgery scheduled for Friday, moved to the front of the attack in hopes of securing one last goal.

Huffman’s free kick goal decided Monday’s match against Newton, and Galema was hoping to grant her wishes for another against Central Iowa United.

A trio of shots were turned away by Smith, and none of Huffman’s passes found their way from a teammate’s foot into the net.

Still, Huffman was happy with how her final game went, even if the tears came anyway.

“It was a combination of (pain and emotion) because I’m said I’m going to be leaving it for a year, but so proud of my team for going 2-0,” she said. “I don’t think I can remember a time in high school we’ve even gone 1-0 at the beginning of the season so I’m really proud of them and looking forward to what they can do.

“A lot of us haven’t really experienced it with high school so we don’t really know how to react to two wins in a row but I think we’re all excited.”

The Bobcats will get a further look into their mettle this spring with another home game on Monday, as Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck returns to Leonard Cole Field for a non-conference tilt. GC/G-R beat the Bobcats 4-3 last season in Reinbeck, and the two teams have scrimmaged each other to start the last two years.

“Obviously as we go along in the season … we have to play much better and much cleaner, but for a team that has had to play so offensive compared to what we’ve done in the past it’s a big change for some of the girls to push the tempo and force our will offensively,” Galema said. “But I think our opportunities are there. Our chances are there, so that’s great to see.”


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