Bishop Heelan girls advance to state soccer final

Bishop Heelan is in the Class 1A championship game at the girls state soccer tournament after a 1-0 win over Iowa City Regina on Friday.

For a team that’s been to the state tournament 17 times, you wouldn’t think this would be a new experience. But it is for Bishop Heelan. Freshmen scored both goals in the Crusaders first round win. And first-year head coach Clark Charlestin got his first state victory on Thursday.

Friday would be another strong day for the freshmen. Regina was aggressive on offense but ninth-grade keeper Mary Kate Fitzsimmons was on top of her game in net and it was a scoreless first half.

But five minutes into the second half, freshman Grace Mahaney winds up and boots the ball home from 30 yards out for the lead. Mahaney didn’t score in the regular season but has goals in back-to-back state tournament games.

"I had a feeling that it could have helped us win the game," said Mahaney. "We just had to make sure that we stayed on defense and had a shutout."

Meanwhile, Fitzsimmons held strong in net and one goal is enough to get the youthful Crusaders to the state championship game.

"That was the goal," said head coach Clark Charlestin. "I think we were confident going into every single game the same way. Every single game we go into, we like our chances. We like our chances. We think if we do what we have to do the right way, we play defensively the right way, we get the ball going forward, we maximize that opportunity and we’ll be okay."

Bishop Heelan (13-7) will play top-seeded Davenport Assumption (17-2) on the 1A final on Saturday at 10:00 AM. Assumption beat Center Point-Urbana, 5-1, in their semifinal match.

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