Rapid City Stevens and Rapid City Central will meet for a third time this season after they posted wins in the opening round of the Class AA girls soccer playoffs Tuesday at Sioux Park Stadium.
The Cobblers won the opening game of the evening session with a 5-1 win over Spearfish. The Raiders closed the night by registering a 6-0 shutout of Sturgis. Central and Stevens will play for a third time this season Saturday, with the game tentatively scheduled for a 2 p.m. start.
“It’s going to be fun,” Raiders coach Luis Usera said of playing the Cobblers. “When you play Central, it’s not all about soccer. It’s about all those other things, the intangibles that sometimes you can’t coach. It’s just what the girls bring to the game.”
“I’m not going to lie; I’m okay with playing Stevens again,” said Central coach Mark Morgan, whose team tied the Raiders 2-2 Sept. 10 before falling to them 2-0 Sept 24. “It’ll be fun to have another crack at them.”
R.C. CENTRAL 5, SPEARFISH 1: The unrelenting attack the Cobblers have brought to the pitch this season was on display during Tuesday’s faceoff with a young Spartan squad. The difference being Central found the back of the net early and built on its success as the game wore on.
“We came out knowing we couldn’t underestimate Spearfish,” Cobbler senior Emma Avery said. “They’re a fast team and they’re aggressive.”
Unofficially, the Cobblers got off 31 shots and got 23 of those on frame as they kept pressure on Spearfish’s goalkeeper through the 80-minute contest.
“Our midfield connected with our forwards way better than we have at times,” said Cobbler senior Alexa Henry, who finally scored after having two near-misses from close range during the second half. “That will help us move farther on in the playoffs.”
Senior midfielder Emma Avery opened scoring for Central in both halves, notching the first of her two goals just five minutes into the contest, with the assist going to Kylea Becker. Becker added a goal of her own in the 19th minute to stake the Cobblers to a 2-0 lead.
Avery made it a 3-0 match in the 49th minute when she scored unassisted from close range when she broke into Spearfish’s penalty area and beat Spartan goalkeeper Taya Lucas. Morgan Sullivan tallied a goal in the 71st minute and Henry made it 5-0 when her long-range shot got behind Lucas.
Spearfish got onto the scoreboard late in the match when freshman defender Ashley Mailloux moved in on the attack and scored.
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“We came out a little slow,” said Spearfish coach Katrina Huft, whose team closes the season at 6-8-1. “It took us the first half to get our feet underneath us. But I’m really proud of how my girls stepped up. Getting that goal in the last minute shows how they play with heart and determination.”
R.C. STEVENS 6, STURGIS 0: In a battle of youth versus experience, the Raiders veteran squad won out.
Stevens kept play in Sturgis’ end of the field for much of the game, allowing the Scoopers only two shots, none of which were on goal as the Raiders advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals with a convincing 6-0 win.
Tuesday’s victory was vastly different than when the two teams faced off Sept. 13, with Stevens taking away a 1-0 result despite controlling play for much of the match.
“The game plan coming in was to score, and then we just kept doing it,” said Raider senior Ellie Schad, who opened scoring in the 11th minute of play. “The first time we played Sturgis we kept the ball but we had a hard time scoring. This time we really worked at getting through their defense, and we succeeded.”
Peyton King scored two minutes after Schad’s opening goal. Bryanna Kuhn closed scoring in the first half with a goal in the 27th minute and opened scoring in the second half with her second counter in the 54th minute.
Riley Schad and Abbie Noga scored within 20 seconds of each other to push Stevens ahead 6-0. Riley Schad scored on a penalty kick with 12:57 to go and Noga came right back downfield and netted the game’s final goal off an assist from Kylee Bennett.
Sturgis coach Adam Fitzpatrick was pleased with his young team’s play despite the outcome. The Scoopers lean heavily on underclassmen, including goalkeeper Morgan Jost, who is an eighth-grader.
“Stevens has a lot of speed and a lot of balance,” Fitzpatrick said. “Luis had his team ready to play from moment the whistle came down.
“We had plenty of heart out there and we had a good attitude. That’s all I can ask for.”
Sturgis closes the season at 5-5-3.