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Girls soccer stars shine bright in Council Bluffs

Girls soccer stars shine bright in Council Bluffs

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There have been a lot of talented girls soccer players to come through Council Bluffs through the years and this past season was no exception.

The current group of players includes two players that have committed to play at Division-I programs and two teams that qualified for the state tournament — Lewis Central and Abraham Lincoln.

Thomas Jefferson and St. Albert also had successful seasons coming one game away from making the trip for the state tournament in Des Moines.

The Lynx finished the season with a record of 16-4, The Yellow Jackets went 10-8, Lewis Central tallied a 17-3 record and St. Albert ended 9-10. That’s a combined 52-25 record for the city teams.

On top of great team performances, many individuals had successful seasons as well.

This year’s all-city team is made up of five seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and one freshman.

The following players have made the 2021 Council Bluffs All-City soccer team.

Goalkeeper

Hannah Belt, Thomas Jefferson, senior: Hannah Belt moved between the pipes from her normal forward position, for her final season, in hopes of giving the Yellow Jackets a boost on defense.

Her performance spoke for herself as she finished the season with 168 saves and only 23 goals allowed for a save percentage of 88. Not only was she the starting goalie but also played minutes in her forward role. She led the Yellow Jackets in goals with 17.

“She played keeper most of the year,” head coach Mark Royer said. “She was a true team player. She played field when we needed a comeback or if we were up a lot led us in goals. Her goalkeeper stats would be better. She missed around 450 minutes in the goal so her stats would be huge. We only gave up three goals in those minutes. She’s absolutely a freak athlete and funny.”

Defense

Paige Bracker, Abraham Lincoln, junior: Paige Bracker was a leading contributor on a Lynx defense that held opponents just nearly one goal a game. Despite playing from the backline, Bracker finished the season with nine assists and three goals.

Abraham Lincoln shut out seven opponents this season.

“Paige was the foundation and leader of everything we did defensively,” A.L. head coach Robbie Miller said. “She used her speed, technical and tactical skills, and leadership to shut down and shut out each city schools’ offense. Her work ethic and endurance were unparalleled. She worked from her center back position to get involved in the attack as well.”

Anna Helton, St. Albert, sophomore: Anna Helton led the Saintes backline. The defense came through many times, including in three one-goal wins for St. Albert.

Helton finished the season with one assist and one goal from her defensive position.

“She’s a great defender,” head coach Chris Hughes said. “She’s tough as nails and has a never say die attitude.”

Cyann Rankin, Thomas Jefferson, senior: Cyann Rankin led the Jackets defense to seven shutout victories during the season and three games where they held opponents to just one goal.

In total, Thomas Jefferson held opponents to under two goals a game.

“She was our best defender and played injured all year,” T.J. head coach Mark Royer said. “She’s always talking like an assistant coach on the field.”

Midfield

Piper McGuire, Abraham Lincoln, junior: Piper McGuire finished with a team-high nine assists for the Lynx and scored eight goals. Her presence in the midfield was felt not only on the offensive end but also defensively.

“Piper was an orchestrator in the midfield setting up our wings and forwards and making runs herself to bury the ball in the back of the net,” Miller said. “Piper used her great foot skills and shots to help this team be successful.”

Maggie Gundersen, Thomas Jefferson, junior: Gundersen is only junior but has played her last season as a Yellow Jacket as her two years in high school have already landed her a scholarship with the University of Omaha.

Despite playing primarily a defensive mid she scored 13 goals and assisted on 12 goals.

“(She was one of the) best players in the city period,” Royer said. “She played injured most of the year. She was our heart and soul with incredible drive. She very rarely came out of the game.”

Abby Evers, Thomas Jefferson, junior: Another impressive midfielder for the Yellow Jackets was Abby Evers. She started all 18 games for Thomas Jefferson and led the lead in assists with 16 while scoring 16 goals.

Her 16 assists is a new school record for most assists in a season.

“She has an unbelievable drive and she’s a competitor,” Royer said. “She controlled all our midfield.”

Forwards

Liberty Bates, Abraham Lincoln, freshman: Despite only being a freshman, Liberty Bates was the second leading goalscorer in Council Bluffs this past season putting 23 shots in the back of the net.

She finished the season with a 47.9 shot of goat percentage and tallied five assists.

“Liberty was the anchor of our offensive attack,” Miller said. “She was able to use her speed, strength, and creativity to give opponents fits. She always looks for her teammates and took the shot when she needed to. Liberty’s incredible work rate set her apart from her peers.”

Makenna Shepard, St. Albert, senior: The future Drake Bulldog did it all for the Saintes in her senior year. She was the leading scorer in the city with 32 goals which was the 14th most in the state for any class.

Shepard also finished with eight assists, 126 shots and 73 shots on goal.

“She did more with a young team than any player in the city,” Hughes said. “Makenna would have been the best player on any team on this side of the state. She is an amazing talent coming from the fifth smallest girls soccer school in the state of Iowa.”

Hannah Estrada, Lewis Central, senior: Hannah Estrada was prolific on offense for the Titans scoring 20 goals and dishing out 10 assists. Her score on 50% of her shots on goal. In total, she took 63 shots this season.

Haley Bach, Lewis Central, senior: Haley Bach proved to be one of the most deadly weapons for the Titans this season. She finished with 18 goals on just 38 shots on goal and 55 total shots. Her shot percentage of 32.7 was the highest in the city for a player with at least 50 shots.

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