MARION, Iowa — After Linn-Mar’s third goal of the second half, Muscatine goalie Abigail Rhoades slapped the turf and yelled in frustration.
It was that kind of second half for the Muscatine girls soccer team.
Muscatine had no answer for the Linn-Mar attack in the second half, as it surrendered four goals after halftime and suffered a 5-0 loss in Monday’s Class 3A Region 7 final at Linn-Mar Stadium. The Muskies end their season with a 9-7 record and the Lions advance to the Class 3A state tournament.
“We went 41 minutes strong and then the wheels just fell off and away they went,” Muscatine coach Nate Meineke said.
Class 3A No. 3 Linn-Mar (18-1) set the tone early in the second half, as it marched down the field in the opening minute before sailing a shot wide. Three minutes later, Linn-Mar junior Piper Carey scored on a breakaway chance that bounced off the outstretched hands of a diving Gracie Brossart to give the Lions a 2-0 lead in the 44th minute.
The Muskies immediately found themselves on the defensive once again, and senior Emmie Smith fouled in their box to set up a penalty kick for the Lions. Carey converted to give them a 3-0 lead in the 47th minute and command of the game for good.
“The floodgates opened up after that third goal,” Meineke said. “By that time the wind was out of the sails and unfortunately I think we were done at that point. If you’re not shooting the ball, not able to possess the ball or attack it’s just a matter of time before goals happen."
Meineke subbed Brossart out in the 50th minute, as the Muscatine senior goalie played through pain all evening. Meineke said she’s struggled with her shoulder since having surgery on it a year ago and has played a good chunk of the season with a torn ligament in her knee.
“She’s been hobbling around and gutting it out. Her and Vada (Fridley) are the heart and soul (on defense), playing a ton of minutes for us every game,” Meineke said. “Gracie, to play through the injury, that’s a tough position to be limited and she did a great job.”
The Linn-Mar onslaught continued, as it converted two more goals — one in the 62nd minute and another in the 64th minute — to give itself a bigger cushion. Meineke said the best defense is offense, and the Muskies had very little of that on Monday, as they played almost the entire second half on the defensive side of the field and managed just two shots on goal. The Lions, meanwhile, got 10 shots on goal and wore down the Muskies’ defense.
However, entering halftime the Muskies felt good about where they stood. They trailed just 1-0 and created opportunities with good ball and played a “great half” of soccer according to Meineke.
They had chances in the first half to be in better position, too, as senior Emma Freyermuth found freshman Sophia Thomas open in the Lions’ box, but Linn-Mar goalie Anna Kimball made a save on Thomas’ shot in the 13th minute. Then, in the 22nd minute, a Linn-Mar corner kick turned into a three-on-one counterattack for the Muskies before a player was called for offsides.
Linn-Mar capitalized on the mistake, as sophomore Hallie Peak scored the first goal of the game in the 27th minute and Muscatine never found its footing again.
“Once they put in that first goal it was just downhill from there,” Meineke said. “The impact the five seniors had on our program was tremendous and they’ll definitely be missed. I hope the younger ones are able to follow in their footsteps and carry the torch.”