It took awhile for the ninth-ranked Ankeny girls’ soccer team to figure out how to slow down Southeast Polk’s Sydney Milani in Thursday’s game at Altoona.
The game was tied, 2-2, when Ankeny coach Dan Bertsch decided to move Riley Whitaker to center back in an effort to match up with Milani’s speed. The No. 15 Rams never scored again.
“Sydney is a track athlete and one of the fastest kids in the state,” Bertsch said. “We just didn’t organize very well to match up with her, and that’s why we made the move with Riley. It was a world of difference for us, because we dominated from the start of the second half on.”
Ankeny eventually won the game, 3-2, in double overtime when Chloee Kooker converted a penalty kick. Kooker drew a foul in the box to set up the decisive goal.
“It was an incredible game,” Bertsch said. “The CIML is getting tougher and tougher with all of these club girls coming out (for the sport). It’s a fight every game.”
It was the CIML Central Conference opener for both teams. Ankeny improved to 4-0 overall despite giving up its first goals of the season, while the Rams dropped to 2-1.
Southeast Polk had defeated its first two opponents, Des Moines Lincoln and Des Moines East, by a 10-0 margin.
“They’re very well organized,” Bertsch said of the Rams. “Our girls had to stay very composed. We had a million chances to one, and it just took that extra goal to beat them.”
The Rams took an early 1-0 lead before Ankeny answered with a goal by Alexis Legg. Legg, who also plays for the Ankeny girls’ tennis team, played singles in the Hawkettes’ 8-3 loss at Southeast Polk on Thursday before heading over to the soccer field.
Southeast Polk regained a 2-1 lead before Ashley Harrington scored the tying goal for the Hawkettes. Morgan Bennett had a pair of assists in the win.
“We’ve just go so many players willing to play and adjust when needed,” Bertsch said. “We can literally make any tactical adjustment necessary with the players that we have.”