MUSCATINE – You couldn’t exactly say it was hanging on by their fingernails. More like a hand.
Perhaps a hand and a half.
“Hey, one down, two to go,” summarized Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Doug Graham said after the Saints held off Adel-DeSoto-Minburn, 2-1, in what turned out to be a bit of a white-knuckle Class 2A state tournament quarterfinal Thursday afternoon.
Xavier (16-2) faces Sioux City East (18-1) today at 4:30 as its quest for history continues. The Saints have won six consecutive girls’ soccer titles, with one more setting an all-sport state record.
It’s not like they or their fans want any of their games to be as tight as Thursday’s turned out. But if you have to hang on for a victory, you have to hang on.
Fingernails or not.
“Yeah, it appeared to be like that,” Xavier’s Kayla Armstrong admitted. “A win is a win.”
Armstrong’s matriculated through the box with a bunch of nifty ball moves and busted a shot past ADM keeper Mallory Schultze 23 minutes in to put Xavier on top. Marinna Schroud’s goal off a loose ball at the side of the net seven minutes later made it 2-0 Saints.
For whatever reason, Schroud’s name isn’t in the state tournament program, though everyone knows her name now.
“I thought maybe we started out a little slowly, but we picked it up right away,” Schroud said. “We got into it and played really hard.”
An unofficial count had Xavier with 15 shots on goal to one for ADM in the first half, and most of the second-half play was more of the same. But Armstrong hit the post on one shot and the crossbar on another.
Xavier’s inability to add to its lead became significant when Emily Hofmann scored for ADM against the flow of play with 14:50. Unexpectedly, it was a game.
“We were all getting a little tired out there, the heat getting to us,” Armstrong said. “But Lauren Konchar really stepped it up in the middle and played really well. Our defense saved us.”
“Their keeper was just there for them, about 80 percent of the time,” Graham said.
ADM never seriously threatened to get the tying goal, with Xavier running off most of the final five minutes by possessing the ball. Graham was reminded postgame that winning championship number seven wouldn’t be easy.
“Oh, no, sir,” he said. “But it’s one down and two to go.”
“You’re always nervous coming to state,” Armstrong said. “There are high expectations for everybody.”