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Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Even after three years of varsity experience and more than 60 career matches there are situations that make Lauren Gaarde a little uneasy on a soccer field.
Towards the top of that list would be having a one-on-one situation with the keeper in the final minute of overtime in a scoreless season opener.
No matter how nervous she felt when faced with that exact scenario on Wednesday Gaarde looked cool as could be.
Gaarde scored the game-winning goal with 55 seconds left in overtime to lift Class 1A third-ranked Regina to a 1-0 over Liberty High (1-1) in a cross-town matchup at Regal Field.
“I was nervous, especially being overtime in the first game of the season I just really wanted to score and get the game over with,” Gaarde said. “At the same time, I was confident because I was one on one and I’ve practiced a lot but it was definitely nerve wracking.”
Gaarde had good reason to be confident with match on the line.
The senior forward entered the season with 50 career goals after leading Regina with a career-high 19 last season.
She had to wait a little longer than Regina would have liked for her first goal of her senior season but it made a winner out of the Regals in their season opener.
“Lauren has been working on and has really improved a lot this year,” Regina coach Ann Larew said. “I think the opportunity was there and once it was there we were able to score and seal the deal.”
Neither team mounted much in the way of an offensive attack in a scoreless first half.
Regina had chances in the second half but Liberty High keeper Nicole Hoeeg came up with a pair of nifty saves to keep the match scoreless.
“It was a good battle,” Liberty High coach Frank Fiordellisi said. “I think the first half we came out a bit nervous and shaky and our inexperience showed and we didn’t have a lot of the ball. In the second half and overtime we started to piece some things together and didn’t create too many dangerous chances but we defended well and we were pretty organized.”
Regina failed to capitalize on its two best scoring chances of the match each in the final 10 minutes.
The Regals had a free kick from inside the box late and Gaarde was unable to convert on a breakaway in the final three minutes.
“At the end of regulation we started to get a little frantic and I think we had been playing really well and we lost our composure a little bit toward the end,” Larew said. “Before the overtime we said ‘you are fine, you are playing well just play with composure, settle down and go out there and play your game’ and I thought they went out in the overtime and played much better.”
Regina finally ended it when Gaarde got loose in the final minute of overtime.
She took a pass from senior midfielder Greyson Dumont and beat a defender into the box and was able to slip a low shot past Hoeeg for the game-winner.
“Greyson played a really nice ball to me and I was able to beat a defender and kind of head it to myself,” Gaarde said. “Then I got my foot on it and it went in.”
Liberty High won its inaugural varsity match 4-0 over West Delaware last week and returns to action on Thursday at Fort Madison.
“We are only going to go up from here because we have so many inexperienced players,” Fiordellisi said. “They showed a lot of heart today.”