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Local Sports

Earning The Grade

Balanced Cardinals blank Pella Christian

Newton girls soccer coach Sackda Viravong is apparently a pretty tough grader.

After the Cardinals earned a B-minus last week with a season-opening 2-0 victory, Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over Pella Christian earned the slightly better grade of a B-plus.

Again, it will definitely be interesting to see what gets the team an A.

“Our goal was not to overlook them and just focus on us the whole game,” said junior Amber Karsten, who scored two goals in the win. “We also wanted to work on our passing because we got a B-minus last game, so we wanted to improve our grade, and we did.”

The Cardinals (4-0, 1-0 Little Hawkeye Conference) seemed to be on their A game from the very start of the game as Karsten scored two quick goals to give Newton a comfortable lead with barely any time off the clock. Pella Christian’s goalkeeper tightened her game after that, however, as a slew of Cardinal shots over the next few minutes were either stopped or went slightly over the crossbar.

“Overall, there was a lot better movement of the ball,” Viravong said. “What we still need to improve on is finishing. We had so many opportunities to score, and I don’t know how many times we crossed the ball into the face of the net. We could have easily TKO’d this team early.”

The Eagles only crossed into Cardinal territory a few times in the half as the Cards continued their onslaught. It wasn’t until the 4:13 mark that Newton got its third goal, as senior Kaylie Rhoads cut right up the middle of the field and blasted a shot on goal, which was saved. Fellow senior Kristin Samson gathered the rebound, however, and chipped it in for a 3-0 Cardinal lead at the half.

Sophomore Anna Barr appeared to give the Cards a 4-0 lead just 43 seconds in the second half, but the goal was waved off on an offside call. After Newton came up short on a Rhoads penalty kick and a wild turn of events that included a debated PC handball, Newton senior Stevi Eggers put the fourth goal of the game in the net at the 27:04 mark after cleaning up yet another rebound.

“Last year, it was Megan Wright. This year, we can spread it around a little bit,” Viravong said of the team’s goal scoring. “That is good, because you don’t want to rely on just one person. If they shut that person down, there goes the game plan.”

Rhoads found the back of the net about five minutes later, driving her goal total to six on the season. Barr also got some redemption from her earlier waved-off goal with 5:11 remaining when she chipped a shot into the back right corner to give the Cardinals the eventual final lead of 6-0.

After having just about nothing to do for the whole game, Newton junior keeper Emily Forsyth was pulled for Eggers and reinserted into the lineup as a forward. She managed a few shots on goal, but couldn’t quite put one away. Still, she (and Eggers) pitched the Cardinals’ third shutout of the young season.

“Our defenders did really well,” Viravong said. “When you have a game like this, you try to give everyone a chance to play. I was pleased with the team’s performance overall.”

Although it is still early, the Cardinals have seemingly knocked off any rust they might have accumulated in the offseason. With Wright’s graduation and the team’s abbreviated practice schedule, it could have been rough to get the offense going.

But it they continue their four goals per game average, it could be an interesting season for the Cards.

“At the beginning of the season it was so crazy since we were inside, but we’re definitely starting to mesh more,” Karsten said. “We’re getting to know our spots, and even better we’re clicking, but we haven’t had that much competition yet. Although that’s helping too, since we’re not getting too hectic.”

Newton’s upcoming schedule is somewhat up in the air, as the team has yet to decide if it will play an extra game at Prairie-City Monroe on Friday. If not, the Cards will be off until next Tuesday at Knoxville.

NOTES: Junior Brooke Porter suffered what appeared to be a leg injury in the closing minutes of the game. Viravong said she was going in Tuesday night for X-rays, and the team will await those results.

Sports Editor Shane Lucas may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 432, or at

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