Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Ann Larew prepares her Regina soccer team as if every single match will last an extra 20 minutes.
Regina needed less than two extra minutes to win its state tournament opener on Thursday and that was just fine with Larew.
Lauren Gaarde scored her second goal of the game less than two minutes into overtime to lift eighth-ranked Regina to a 2-1 win over No. 3 Nevada (15-5) in a Class 1A state quarterfinal at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines.
The win avenged a 2-1 penalty kick shootout loss to Nevada in the regular season and sends Regina (11-7) back to the state semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons.
“We were absolutely fine with not going to double overtime,” Larew said. “We said we are not going to a PK shootout, this is it, we are done with it. We’ve had enough. We were absolutely thrilled not to play anymore.”
Gaarde’ high arcing shot from the top of the box just 82 seconds into overtime stopped Regina from playing any extra soccer on Thursday.
Thanks to the late heroics from Gaarde and fueled by the early-season conditioning sessions ordered by Larew the Regals will be play some more this season.
Regina will face ninth-ranked Sioux City Heelan (12-7), a 2-0 win over second-ranked Gilbert, in the semifinals on Friday at 11:15 a.m.
“We know we don’t want to go into PKs,” Gaarde said. “We played against this team in overtime and it was a similar thing for us and we knew we could get it done in 80 minutes.
Regina controlled most of the opening half, dominating possession and scoring opportunities by trailed 1-0 at halftime.
Nevada scored on one of its two solid scoring opportunities when Meredith Harter knocked in a loose ball following a penalty kick from outside the box in the 30th minute.
“We tend to play keep away a lot and not shoot it so the first half was kind of frustrating not getting a goal,” Regina senior midfielder Greyson Dumont said. “We knew we still had 40 minutes left and 40 minutes is a lot of time.”
Regina pushed forward early in the second half creating scoring chance after scoring chance.
The Regals looked stronger and fresher as the match went on and finally pulled even when Gaarde cause a turnover in the box and beat keeper Grace Francis in a one-one-one situation.
“The defender just kind of bobbled it and I just had to get in front and take it in,” Gaarde said. “I think it all continued throughout the game just keeping it up and keeping the intensity.”
Larew credits the second-half surge to work her players put in months ago.
“When you are in March and April and May and you are working so hard on the field and then you are also working hard on conditioning it’s not a fun experience,” Larew said. “It’s not something they thank me for at the time but it pays off in the end.”
The payoff for Regina came in the final 42 minutes on Thursday.
Less than two minutes into the overtime period Gaarde found herself alone on top of the box and took a shot, lofting a ball over the top of the outstretched arm of Francis for the game-winner.
“They have a very good goalie and they pack the back so we knew that we had to take some outside shots or just get that one breakaway and Lauren did both,” Dumont said. “She did a really good job of it.”
The two goals on Thursday gave Gaarde 17 for the season and sent Regina to the semifinals for the first time since 2016.
Regina lost that semifinal 3-1 to Nevada and now face a Sioux City Heelan squad that is riding a seven-match win streak.
“Early on we made a mistake and it cost us and at that point the girls have two roads to follow you can hang your head and the rest of the game you can play like we made a mistake or you can rise above it,” Larew said. “I think that was the key today is they rose above that mistake.”