DES MOINES — Amy Grause's freshman year at Sioux City East was largely forgettable.
The Black Raiders won “six or seven” games, coach Tyler Mogensen said, and lost in the first round of the postseason.
Grause's last three seasons, however, have been loaded with memorable moments. Third-rated East added another one Friday, advancing to its first state championship game after a 2-1 Class 2-A semifinal victory against No. 2 Pleasant Valley at Cownie Soccer Park.
East lost in the quarterfinals two years ago and the semifinals last season. Grause and fellow seniors Deianira Felts, Christina Hackbarth and Abby Yeska lifted the program to new heights Friday.
“For them to go from first-round (regional) losers to now the final of the state tournament is pretty remarkable for them,” Mogensen said. “And it's just a testament to them; they're the four that stuck with the program when it wasn't so hot. Now they're reaping the benefits of that.”
East would like to reap the benefits of one more victory. Mogensen's club (18-2) will play for the title against the gold standard of Iowa soccer, seven-time defending champion and top-rated Cedar Rapids Xavier (18-1) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“They have all the pressure on them,” Mogensen said. “They're going for eight straight. They're supposed to win. Maybe a little bit of that pressure and us having nothing to lose …”
On Friday, after a largely uneventful first half, all of the scoring came in a five-minute span of the second half.
Freshman keeper Cora Myers of Pleasant Valley (15-6) punched a shot by junior Caitlin Foley off the crossbar, but junior Eliot Sayavong was there to punch in the rebound for East in the 48th minute. The Spartans answered in the 50th minute on a goal by Stephanie D'Cruz.
In the 52nd minute, Grause put a nice through ball toward freshman Brooklyn Malchow. The Spartan defender beat Malchow to it, but wasn't able to clear it. One thing went through Malchow's head as she became wide open from close range.
“I'm going to score,” she said.
She did, and Mogensen loaded his defense with extra defenders for the final quarter of the match. Felts made a terrific close-range save in the 64th minute.
It was a case of pupil beating teacher for East. Mogensen played for Pleasant Valley coach Richard Markham at Sioux City North in the early 2000s. Markham also was a college roommate of Heelan coach Shawn Mansfield, whose team is a 1-A state finalist.
“I wish it was us of course, but it's good to see (Mogensen) moving on,” Markham said. “Hopefully someone's going to knock off Xavier sometime.”
Sioux City East (18-2) ........................... 0 2 – 2
Pleasant Valley (15-6) ........................... 0 1 – 1
Goals: E, Eliot Sayavong, Brooklyn Malchow. PV, Stephanie D'Cruz.