City High Drops Opener to No. 12 Pleasant Valley

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Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – It would have been easy for City High coach Michael Prunty to schedule a less than stressful season opener to help ease his first-year starters into the rigors of varsity action.

Even easier for the fourth-year City High coach would have been cancelling the Little Hawks’ season-opener outright after snow, sleet and rain showed up on the Tuesday forecast.

Prunty isn’t interested in taking the easy way out.

While City High didn’t get a win in it’s opener on Tuesday its head coach got exactly what he wanted.

Class 3A No. 14 City High fell to No. 12 Pleasant Valley 2-0 in the season opener for both teams on a rainy, snowy and cold afternoon at City High.

“It would have been very easy for us just to cancel this game and move on and get more practice time but based on our earlier scrimmages we needed a little more taste of good competition,” Prunty said. “They are a ranked team it’s good to get a feel for another tough opponent, we were looking for a quicker wake up call, we wanted something to show that we had to change.”

The wakeup call that Prunty was seeking came early for the Little Hawks.

Pleasant Valley scored less than five minutes into the game on a Rory Donahue goal.

City High picked up the pace following the Donahue goal but couldn’t pull even while dropping its season opener for the first time since 2014.

“It was a shock to their system, we gave up a goal in the first five minutes and you could tell the pressure was a little more,” Prunty said. “We found ourselves a little bit, we are obviously lacking in the attack right now but we got some time on the ball. It’s just that final pass and getting more comfortable with what we are asking them to do.”

Gretchen Strobbe added a goal in the 56th minute as Pleasant Valley avenged a 2-0 loss to the Little Hawks in last year’s season opener in Bettendorf.

The big goal on Tuesday was the blast from Donahue in the 5th minute that swung the momentum to the Spartans on a cold and damp afternoon.  

“We scrimmaged on Saturday and we shot and shot and shot and shot and nothing went in so it was just nice to get one in the back of the net,” first-year Pleasant Valley coach Ed Knupp said. “I think that really helped us out and keep our energy.”

City High couldn’t mount much of an attack on Tuesday but stayed in the game thanks to several nifty saves by junior keeper Naomi Meurice.

Meurice made a pair of diving saves in the opening 15 minutes of the second half to keep the deficit at a single goal.

“I think it’s really important to play a team that is very competent early and they are a good team,” Meurice said. “They played well and they definitely pressured us in a lot of ways that I think we need to learn to adjust to.”

As the match wore on City High did adjust the Little Hawks just were not able to convert.

Meanwhile Strobbe angled a shot past Meurice from outside the 18-foot box with under 25 minutes to play to all but secure the win for Pleasant Valley.

“They pressured us in new ways that maybe we weren’t really used to or we didn’t practice and that’s good because there are going to be other teams like that,” Meurice said. “That kind of lets us know that’s how we play and how are we going to change it and hopefully get better.”