MUSCATINE, Iowa — Shawn Mansfield had been waiting for 15 years. He didn’t mind holding on a few more minutes for his Sioux City Heelan girls soccer team to reach its first state championship game.
Getting there only required maybe the most dramatic stretch of soccer he had ever seen. In an Iowa Class 1-A semifinal game, third-ranked Heelan forced overtime with two seconds left in regulation before eventually edging unbeaten and No. 2 Waterloo Columbus 4-3 in double OT Friday afternoon at the Muscatine Soccer Complex.
The outcome ends a bizarre trend for the Crusaders (17-1). Of their state-best 12 tournament appearances, this is the first time they have reached a title game. Their reward is a date with another unbeaten — defending champ and No. 1 Davenport Assumption — at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“It’s been a goal for a long time and something we’ve never been able to get to,” said Mansfield, Heelan’s coach. “It feels like an accomplishment, but there’s a little something left in us, I think.”
Surviving to Saturday took one of Heelan’s best performances as well as a little luck. A red card issued to Columbus’s top defender, senior Larin Gordon, for kicking a player on the ground in the 56th minute left the Crusaders with a one-player advantage the rest of the way.
After the Sailors (20-1) tied the game on a penalty kick in the 62nd minute, they took a 3-2 lead on a Heelan own goal in a crowded box with 10 minutes left in regulation. The Crusaders missed a golden opportunity to tie again with 5:20 to play when Makayla Wessling pulled a shot wide left with an open net in front of her.
Wessling would redeem herself. But first teammate Sam Tymkowicz gave her the chance with one of the clutch plays of the year.
With the scoreboard counting off the final seconds, sophomore Brooke Bleeker centered the ball to Tymkowicz, who smacked in a shot off the diving Sailor goalkeeper from five yards away.
Tie game. And with all of two seconds showing.
“I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe it,” Mansfield said. “I was waiting for the horn to go off.”
After a scoreless first overtime, Wessling provided the final exclamation point. Junior Tayler Koolstra found her teammate inside the box for the game-winner from about 10 yards out, setting off a loud celebration near midfield.
“We conquered a great hurdle for our team,” Wessling said. “It just shows you can’t ever give up on a game no matter how much time is left.”
The theatrics all occurred after a defense-dominated first half. Heelan jumped on the board first on a Bleeker liner in the 41st minute and Waterloo Columbus countered 78 seconds later when Ashlee Sinnott punched home a shot off a corner kick.
Megan Glover scored Heelan’s other goal with a close-range finish in the 48th minute.
“Somebody’s got to lose and somebody’s got to win,” Columbus coach Jose Infante said. “With two seconds left, that was amazing. We thought we had it, but the better team won.”
Sioux City Heelan (17-1) .................. 0 3 0 1—4
Waterloo Columbus (20-1) .................. 0 3 0 0—3
Goals: H, Brooke Bleeker, Megan Glover, Sam Tymkowicz, Makayla Wessling; WC, Ashlee Sinnott, Kate Letkewicz, own goal. Assists: H, Wessling, Bleeker 2, Koolstra; WC, Letkewicz.