Council Bluffs is becoming a girls soccer town.
The sport is the city’s most successful from top to bottom – and it isn’t that close. All-state players, dynamic scorers, stingy defenses and winning are evident on all four C.B. teams.
In one sense, this is not new. Abraham Lincoln, Lewis Central, St. Albert and Thomas Jefferson all cracked the state rankings together for the first time in 2011. Each has made a legitimate push toward or reached the state tournament since then.
But the last few days have convinced me this season has the potential to be the best yet within city limits. Consider these recent happenings on the pitch:
• Abraham Lincoln (6-0) claimed the four-team Ralston Invite against fellow large schools last weekend after not winning a game there the four previous years. The Lynx – unrated in Class 3-A – are one of six unbeaten squads in the state who have played at least six games entering Monday.
• Lewis Central (6-1) has six shutouts and is outscoring opponents 49-1 on the spring, with the lone blemish a 1-0 loss to Omaha Mercy. Oh, and the Class 2-A No. 6 Titans are starting all underclassmen.
• Thomas Jefferson (4-3) is riding a four-game winning streak that includes triumphs over two conference rivals and another against Class 1-A No. 10 Tri-Center. After opening with three losses to bigger and/or ranked competition that knocked the Jackets out of the rankings, they have since posted 20 goals while allowing two.
St. Albert (2-5) is the exception, having dropped five straight (four to rated foes). The Saintes, ranked No. 11 in 1-A, are still finding themselves after losing a slew of key players from last year’s team that started 15-0 and went to state.
Offense has been the primary struggle, with the squad sorely missing the graduated Allison Cox and her third-best-in-the-state 43 goals from last year. St. Albert has mustered two total goals in its five setbacks, though three of those came by a single score.
But does anyone believe the Saintes won’t be ready when the games really matter in May? Too many good and experienced coaches and players, I say.
The other city schools are already enjoying some all-state-caliber play at the forward position in addition to lockdown defense. T.J. senior Samantha Arnold (12 goals) broke the school’s old career goals-scored mark of 79 last week. The St. Augustana College (S.D.) signee works the field with Northern Iowa recruit and junior Loren Hemiller (three goals, three assists), among others.
L.C. sophomore Allie Dmyterko (12 goals) is already getting some college looks and is flanked by classmate Kayleigh Putnam and freshman Kelsey McSorley (eight goals each) up top. For Abraham Lincoln, senior Delaney Bolton (seven goals) is off to another fast start and playing in tandem with the likes of junior Alexa Murphy (four goals) and freshman Brooke Harold (three).
The only downer for A.L. is the move up to 3-A after reaching a 2-A regional final last year. It’s the third-smallest school in the classification with 996 students, 19 more than the top 2-A team, Ankeny Centennial. That means the road to state likely goes through Des Moines, with some schools cracking 2,000 kids.
Still, the Lynx beat big programs in Ralston last weekend. Anything can happen in an 80-minute game.
Lewis Central, meanwhile, is drawing early rave reviews after breaking through to state last year. Its possession game and amoeba-style formations are a thing of beauty and hard to find at the prep level in southwest Iowa.
Realistically, the Titans and Lynx could both own just one loss each when they meet May 9 at City Park. That will be a battle to watch.
And really, that’s the point. Savor this spring, with talented and interesting players hitting the fields in town on almost a nightly basis. The majority of these girls grew up playing together in the Council Bluffs Futbol Club or other local organizations. It shows.
The girls soccer exploits extend beyond the city. Tri-Center (1-A No. 10), Harlan Community (1-A No. 14) and Glenwood (2-A No. 7) are rated in the state and also putting together seasons worth watching in The Nonpareil’s coverage area. Find the nights any of these squads face each other and settle in for some good action.
Right now, girls soccer is the best prep ticket in town.