DES MOINES — Progress sometimes comes in increments.
After building up to this point over the last four years, Dubuque Wahlert is prepared to work even harder to make sure this season wasn’t just a one-time thing.
Mayzi Weig scored the game’s only goal in the 50th minute, and fourth-seeded Nevada held off the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles’ desperation push in the final minutes to win their Class 1A state quarterfinal, 1-0, on Tuesday at Cownie Soccer Park.
Nevada (14-5), making its ninth straight state appearance, advanced to face top-seeded and four-time defending state champion Davenport Assumption — a 4-0 victor over Sioux City Heelan — in today’s semifinal.
Wahlert, which was making its 11th appearance and first since 2011, ended the season 11-7.
“It’s kind of been our goal ever since freshman year to make it here,” said senior forward Maya Wachter. “I know it’s not what we wanted, but we can definitely look back and see our progress over the years.”
It’s been quite the turnaround for the Eagles.
Wahlert went just 4-13 in 2017, the season before head coach Jill Leibforth and the seven-member senior class joined the program.
The Eagles had posted just two winning seasons between 2012 and 2019. But in 2018, Wahlert went 9-9 and reached the regional finals. In 2019, the Eagles were 12-7 before falling in the regional semifinals.
The senior class includes three of the team’s top four scorers — Wachter, Gabby Moran and Ivy Dearstone — along with Lola Grap, Mary Kate King, Allie Kutsch and Ana Chandlee.
“We’ll miss them. Even personally I’ll miss them because when I started, that was their freshmen year,” Leibforth said. “It was a memorable career they’ve had and we’ve had together, and we all kind of grew up together in a sense — built this program together.
“But it’s all them. They put in the work. They stay late, they show up early, they set the precedent for this team. And that’s what we’re going to need leadership-wise moving forward.”
Nevada outshot Wahlert, 13-9, and finished with a 10-5 advantage in shots on goal — but even that doesn’t do justice to the back-and-forth nature of the game. Wahlert had a 7-5 edge in shots in the first half.
“It was a back and forth game and honestly, I thought we were in our attacking third more, we just couldn’t get any shots off,” Moran said.
Wahlert subbed Grap out at sweeper for an extra forward with just more than 6 minutes left in an effort to equalize.
The Eagles earned a free kick from a distant, but dangerous, spot with 6 seconds left, but the Cubs held on long enough for time to expire.
Goalkeeper Amya Lavenz finished with nine saves for the Eagles. Nevada’s Addi Vorm stopped all five shots she faced.
“We had so much time I thought for sure we would (draw even),” Moran said. “Even in the last 10 seconds we had the free kick, I’m like this could go in right now. We had so many opportunities, we just didn’t put them away today.”