TREYNOR, Iowa — Round 2 looked eerily similar as the Tri-Center girls traveled to Treynor for the second time in less than a month Friday night.
In the first matchup, Treynor pulled away with two second-half goals after the Trojans tied it late in the first half.
Meeting in a Class 1-A Region 2 semifinal Friday, the No. 7 Cardinals once again had a scoring explosion following a Trojan equalizer, but they upped the ante by scoring three goals in the final 28 minutes for a 4-1 victory.
The Cardinals (17-0) advanced to face No. 2 Gilbert at 6 p.m. Monday.
Treynor coach Stephanie Brady said she was confident her team would respond after the Trojans (12-7) tied it on Tillie Heim’s strike three minutes into the second half.
“Our backs were against the wall and they don’t like losing. Losing is not an option this year,” Brady said. “We work exceptionally hard and even harder when we know that we don’t have a choice.”
For the first 40 minutes, the Cardinals were in control as they racked up 10 shots, seven on goal, with the opening goal coming from freshman Alyssa Kellar, her first of two.
No helper was needed for Kellar, who sidestepped a defender at the top of the box before using her right foot to launch the ball into the top left corner, just out of the reach of junior keeper Emma McDonald.
For the rest of the half, Kellar said, her team let off the gas.
“I feel like after we scored one we kind of laid back a little bit and we shouldn’t have,” Kellar said, “but after they scored one to tie it up we knew we had to kick it in and get going more.”
Following Heim’s score at the start of the second half, both sides were on edge. A brief altercation between Kellar and Heim at midfield after some physical play resulted in yellow cards and a seat on the bench for both players.
Brady called it a learning moment for Kellar.
“Knowing Tillie and knowing Alyssa, they’re good players and they’re both so aggressive, and when your adrenaline gets going, it’s hard to calm down,” she said. “Mental toughness is key in this game. I told (Alyssa) she couldn’t go back in until she was 100 percent calm.”
While they sat, the Cardinals retook the lead. Alexis Kellar sent a corner kick into the box. Konnor Sudmann’s shot was blocked, but Riley Jacobson was right there for the rebound to put the Cardinals in front 2-1 with 28 minutes remaining.
Alyssa Kellar re-entered after sitting due to a yellow card, and she wasted no time getting involved, scoring on a rebound shot five minutes after Jacobson’s goal.
With another multi-score game in the books for the younger Kellar — who has the second-most goals in Class 1-A with 33 — Brady is having fun seeing her continue to improve.
“Alyssa was on another level before she started playing with me. I’m just lucky that I get to coach her,” Brady said. “If I can refine and fine-tune that feistiness a little bit and put it to good use — she’s already something great, but we can keep pushing her along and gaining those skills.”
The final goal came with eight minutes left from a free kick by Mia Shipley 50 yards from the goal. Sudmann leaked behind the defense and poked it in from 10 yards out to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead.
With four shots on goal and three corners Friday, Tri-Center coach Jeff Lefeber felt his offense was closer to finding the answer in this match than the one on May 8.
“I think we did better offensively this time. We definitely put pressure on their defense a lot,” he said. “We didn’t back away from them by any means, so I was proud of it.”
With a regional final coming against the second-rated team in 1-A in Gilbert (14-2), Brady has no doubt her team will come ready to play after performing above expectations all year.
“As long as our girls play a clean, effective game and connect passes, we will have success,” Brady said. “We’d really like to get (to state), and I think they can do it. But we’re going to take it one game at a time and one half at a time if we have to.”
Tri-Center (12-7)...........1 0—1
Treynor (17-0)..............1 3—4
Goals: TC, Tillie Heim; T, Alyssa Kellar 2, Konnor Sudmann, Riley Jacobson.