COUNCIL BLUFFS — Glenwood trailed for all of 23 seconds. Then the Rams put a chokehold on Lewis Central and the Hawkeye Ten Conference.
Moments after falling behind in a showdown of top 10 girls soccer teams in Iowa Class 2-A, Glenwood responded like a team that has reached the state tournament the past two seasons. Sydney Gutschenritter knotted the score in the 13th minute and Emily Wickham added the go-ahead goal seven minutes later as the No. 4 Rams moved past No. 6 Lewis Central 4-1 Tuesday afternoon on the Iowa Western campus.
The meeting has decided the league champion for at least the last four years. Glenwood (10-1, 3-0 Hawk-10) has three conference games remaining but is now a strong favorite to defend its title.
Of course, these Rams have much bigger plans in mind for the next month.
“The last games of the postseason are what we’re worried about,” Glenwood coach Caitlin McIntosh said. “This is a chance to improve and see where we’re at with a chance to get better. This is big for us trying to win the conference, but that’s not the goal.”
The visitors looked like a top-quality outfit for most of the windy outing. Gutschenritter and Wickham took advantage of close shots in the net, and senior Michaela Moore added two goals after the break.
But the Rams also put together an impressive defensive performance. After Lewis Central’s Brooke Jensen scored on a corner kick from Brandi Johnson in the 13th minute, Glenwood largely stifled the Titans’ talented forwards.
Each side attempted eight shots on goal, but Lewis Central’s best tries went right to Glenwood keeper Sierra Edwards. The Titans (7-4, 4-1) had a couple chances to make it 3-2 but didn’t seriously threaten to reclaim the lead.
“It’s a really big deal for us,” Edwards said. “Lewis Central is a pretty hard team to beat, so this win was pretty good.”
Not helping matters for L.C. was the loss of center defender and senior Regan Rodenburg. She left with a leg injury midway through the first half and didn’t return.
Lewis Central’s only defeat against an Iowa school prior to Tuesday was a 2-1 setback against 1-A No. 4 St. Albert last month. L.C. comes back with games against 1-A No. 6 Nevada and 2-A No. 8 Dallas Center-Grimes at a tournament this weekend in Norwalk.
“Today we played good for parts and other times just had too big of breakdowns,” L.C. coach Chris Von Mende said. “In the moments we needed to be composed, we weren’t.
“It started off with a really nice goal. It’s unfortunate we kind of paused and didn’t defend well after that.”
Glenwood doesn’t face another team currently ranked for the rest of the regular season and would have to beat just one to reach state again. McIntosh said that leaves plenty of time to improve on the little things, like one-on-one skills and passing.
She said her team got a little better Tuesday, too.
“Playing a good ranked team like Lewis Central, we weren’t really sure what the outcome would be,” McIntosh said. “They’re good competition for us on this side of the state.”
Glenwood (10-1, 3-0)..................2 2—4
Lewis Central (7-4, 4-1).............1 0—1
Goals: G, Sydney Gutschenritter, Emily Wickham, Michaela Moore 2; LC, Brooke Jensen. Assists: G, Gretchen Dehn; LC, Brandi Johnson.