COUNCIL BLUFFS — Council Bluffs St. Albert coach Chris Hughes said the talk among Class 1-A girls soccer coaches in the state this season was that there were about 10 teams capable of finishing as the state runner-up and one capable of finishing as the champion.

That would be Davenport Assumption. The Knights have won three straight state titles and seven of the last eight. They’ve gone 21-1 at state since 2011, outscoring their opponents 85-9 and shutting out 17 of the 22.

In the last three state tournaments they’ve been especially dominant, outscoring their opponents 45-1.

Tenth-rated St. Albert (14-7) will get its crack at Iowa’s small-school juggernaut, meeting the No. 1 Knights (17-1) at 11 a.m. Thursday in a Class 1-A state quarterfinal at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines.

It will be the Saintes’ ninth state appearance, and they’re seeking their first win. It may be a longshot, but Hughes said that’s why sports are so fascinating.

“I told the girls last night, ‘I’ve been a Dallas Cowboys fan and a Nebraska Cornhusker fan forever in football. In the ’90s I thought we were going to win forever. And then somebody beats you. And something happens.’

“These girls have won seven of eight state titles. At some point — and I’m not saying it’s even now — but at some point it’s not going to happen. Well, these girls don’t want to be the ones to end their career losing the state championship. There’s pressure on them. We have nothing to lose.’’

The Saintes are led by the three-pronged attack of senior Teagan Blackburn (26 goals), sophomore Makenna Shepard (25) and junior Ellerie Tarbox (24). All three will play college soccer, Blackburn at Northwest Missouri State, Shepard at Iowa State and Tarbox at Missouri Western.

Hughes wants to see his team play loose and aggressive.

“You go out there and if you try hard and have fun, even if the results don’t turn your way, it’s still going to be good,’’ he said.

Assumption has outscored its opponents 115-5 this season and leads the state in goals scored. It has allowed two goals in its last 15 games.

Carly King, a Duke track and field recruit, leads the Knights with 36 goals. She won the 100 and 400 meters at the 2-A state meet last month, finished second in the 200 and anchored the sprint medley relay to victory.

The Saintes have four seniors who made the trip to state as freshmen: Blackburn, Maggie Wettengel, Baylee Ratliff and Athena Arculeo. Senior starter Emily Recher was out with an injury that year, and the other senior starter, Bailee Cook, is a Lewis Central transfer.

“It is great to see everything they’ve done and everything they’ve put in to give them a chance to go back and end on the highest stage,’’ Hughes said. “It would be nice to put a little scare in them.’’