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Cyclones battle their way to the state tournament
On June 5, the Denver Cyclone women's soccer team traveled to Waterloo Columbus for yet another sub-state final rematch between the two schools. Eight out of the last 10 years, Denver has had to play against the Sailors for the right to go to state. Always a tension-filled night; these two teams again gave the fans everything they have come to expect in this rivalry. Denver took the field, while the Cyclone fans more than double of the Sailor fans took over Sailor stadium.

Both squads were able to fire early attempts at goal, but both defensives were strong. In the 9-minute mark, Columbus would get on the board first with a shot from the far right that just came short of Carlie Knolls hands. Denver took to the attack and on a breakaway, Annie Place was taken down inside the penalty box and was awarded the penalty shot. Capitalizing on that, Place fired here PK into the upper left of the outstretched Sailor keeper and the game was tied! A physical battle, Denver was able to maintain their composure and 10 minutes later, Johnnie Hill was able to find the back of the net with a perfectly placed shot into goal with assists from McKenna Pollock and Annie Place. The Cyclones went into halftime with a 2-1 lead.

The pressure from Columbus and physical play in the second half was strong, but Denvers midfield and defense played phenomenal soccer, not allowing the Sailors to get under their skin and keeping them away from the Cyclone goal. With just 6 minutes remaining in regulation time, a Cyclone miscue left a Sailor unmarked outside the box and the Sailors were able to tie the game at 2. This sub-state game was going into overtime.

As the overtime began, Denver was able to keep the offensive pressure alive. In the 6th minute, the Sailor defense kicked the ball out off the endline and the Cyclones were awarded a corner kick. Ellie Foelske took the kick from the far right corner and placed it perfectly on the back left side where Johnnie Hill was able to get a beautiful header on the ball that the Sailor keeper was able to punch down. A scramble ensued inside the box for the ball and freshman Hailey Knoll was able to get a foot on the ball and punch it into the lower right corner for the goal AND THE GAME!! Cyclones win 3-2 in overtime!! ON TO STATE!!!

A fabulous night of soccer and the overwhelming group of fans were on their feet!!!! The Cyclone players piled on each other in the excitement! The banner was back in Denvers hands!!

This is such an exciting and so well-deserved win for these girls! exclaimed Emily Gielau, There are so many individuals who stepped up this game. Johnnie was under pressure from 2 players all game, but with Annie, the two were able to keep the offensive threat there. Our midfielders had to adjust to their formation a bit but were able to battle right alongside of them. We had multiple people step up all the way across the midfield and they were physical and never gave up. Ellie Foelske really controlled the middle and she did a great job at adjusting to being outnumbered and was able to shut down their offensive threat from going up the middle on us.

Kambrie Clinton did an outstanding job for us in defense tonight, shutting down Columbus' leading goal scorer and play maker. After coming off of a high ankle sprain, she really stepped up and played well, Jackie Gielau said. I couldn't be more proud of what these girls accomplished tonight. From the start of the season, the girls never gave up. We have struggled to capitalize off of a corner and to finally do it tonight against a team who has done that to us multiple times in the past, it was a great feeling. For that successful corner to be the one time that granted us our trip to state, well thats just icing on the cake!

We had a few players who stepped up this game when Mckenna was unable to finish the game and participate in overtime due to injury. It just shows the type of team dynamic this group has, we are not just a soccer team but one big family and will support one another every step of the way, said Emily Gielau, Getting to see the girls rally behind her during the nail bitter of a finish was something that everyone has learned this team is capable of.

Denvers squad has been anchored by senior captains Johnnie Hill, Ellie Foelske, McKenna Pollock and Carlie Knoll. Johnnie, alongside Annie Place have developed into a great 1-2 punch style offensive threat for this team. While Ellie and McKenna are the driving force in the middle, they have strong support from the outside mids Emma Larson and Lila Meyer. A rock-solid defense has been key to the Cyclones stellar season. With senior Carlie Knoll in goal, she has a great wall with Brenna Sorensen, Gabby Corday, Jaci Carter and Kambrie Clinton in front of her having great success shutting down opponents. This squad sees such great contributions from its entire bench. Jenna Haase, Hailey Knoll, Julia Klunenberg have been key subs during the season whether starting or coming off the bench and have been successful stepping into multiple positions as well.

The State Tournament was played in Des Moines June 8-10. Photos and coverage of their tourney play will be in next weeks Forum.
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