The sun shone on more than just the field of H. A. Lynn Stadium on Friday afternoon. It also shone upon the fortunes of the Newton girls soccer team (8-0, 2-0 Little Hawkeye Conference) in the battle of the birds as the team locked up its second consecutive 1-0 victory to keep its undefeated season going.
The Cardinals took on the visiting Bluejays of Perry, and they were able to control the ball for a vast majority of the game. Despite their constant possession and pressing offensive attack, the Cards were only able to secure an early goal on a tap-in by freshman Victoria Jordan with 29:13 on the clock. That goal proved to be enough as the Cardinal attack ate up much of the clock in second half with Perry only able to mount one or two threatening possessions.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Newton coach Sackda Viravong said. “We scored early, which is always good. It was a nice passing combination, and boom, they got it in. We tried to stay solid with our passing combinations tonight. The big key was the girls without the ball moved into space very well. They were always in position to support their teammates. That was the key for our goal.”
The game started, ironically, with a decent scoring effort by the Bluejays on a corner about one minute in. That attempt was cleared out by the Cards, however, and the attack commenced from there. Senior Kaylie Rhoads had a good look at the net with 35:50 on the clock, but had her shot blocked out of bounds for a corner kick. Several possessions went by with the ball being played into the Perry box multiple times, culminating in the aforementioned goal by Jordan.
The next chance by Perry, and its best shot at a goal all game, came with 23:00 on the clock. The Bluejays had what looked like a clear chance at a goal, when the ball was suddenly scooped up by Cardinal keeper junior Emily Forsyth. The rest of the half saw plenty of Newton chances swatted or blocked away in front of the Bluejay net. Junior Amber Karsten had the final chance of the half at the end of a string of good passes, but her shot was stopped by Perry keeper Jackie Casas, and the half ended 1-0.
The second half was unceremoniously dominated by a constant Cardinal attack. It seemed that Perry was unable to get the ball past midfield until roughly four minutes left in regulation. Newton was not able to take advantage of several terrific scoring opportunities, but the possession the team displayed was more than enough to subdue the Bluejays for almost the entire half.
“They played hard, and they showed what they’ve got,” Viravong said. “It’s all about our character and what the girls are made of. We passed the ball quite a bit. I told the girls that we couldn’t abandon what got us to this point. We need to continue to improve and develop our passing. It’s not yet, and it never will be perfection. Each game is different. Each team is different, but as long as we stick to our plan, we’ll be all right.”
Rhoads and Karsten, as well as sophomore Anna Barr had multiple shots on goal, but nothing ended up in the back of the net. It was frustrating for Viravong to watch, but he was happy with the team’s ability to constantly attack.
“They’ve been training hard, and it shows. They stay poised. They don’t get rattled. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Viravong said. “This game could have been 4-0 easily. We hit the post a couple times. We hit the keeper a couple times. Amber got close on a sitter, but their goalie was in the right time and the right place. “
Viravong was obviously very pleased with the hard-fought win. He handed out his customary grade to the team after the game.
“We are going in a good direction,” he said. “This win was well deserved. We have never been this far along in the season undefeated. It’s new territory, and they should enjoy it. They get an A grade for this one.”
The girls will try to keep the streak going when they face LHC rival Grinnell on Tuesday night.