A year ago, Miranda Wood was the third-string goalkeeper for the Ankeny Centennial girls’ soccer team.
Now, the sophomore is playing a key role in the midfield.
Wood scored the game’s only goal on a blast from about 40 yards out to give the top-ranked Jaguars a 1-0 victory at No. 8 Johnston in their regular-season finale on Thursday.
“Miranda just hit a bomb to find the back of the net,” said Centennial coach Chris Allen. “She likes to take a shot, she found some time and space, and she fired away.”
Wood scored in the 68th minute off an assist by Olivia Brown. Centennial improved to 15-2 with its 10th straight victory, while the loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Dragons (7-4).
After a scoreless first half, the Jaguars figured out a way to attack Johnston’s collapsing defense.
“We saw at halftime we were really trying to stretch them,” Allen said. “They would collapse their defense around the 18, and we thought we could get some looks above the 18.”
Wood finally saw an opening and took advantage of it. She scored her fourth goal of the season.
“We had a couple of other chances, and that started to open things up for us,” Allen said. “It was just a matter of connecting.”
Wood first made the move to the midfield with her club team. It took her awhile, though, to make an impact for the Jaguars.
“We told her we’d develop her there (in the midfield), but she’d be playing in our JV program,” Allen said. “As injuries started to take a toll on us and knowing Miranda’s personality, and she was having success on the JV level, this past week we just named her to the varsity roster and she’s making the most of it.”
Centennial posted its fifth shutout in the last six games and its 10th overall. The Jaguars were able to contain Johnston’s high-scoring Maya McDermott, who had racked up 15 goals in just seven games prior to Thursday.
“Our defense was stout tonight,” Allen said. “We did a very nice job of denying a very dangerous forward some opportunities, and (goalkeeper) Marissa Lopez just made a huge save for us. She stopped a shot from close range without a bobble or anything to make the save.”
Each of Centennial’s last three wins has been decided by a lone goal. The Jaguars also edged No. 12 Linn-Mar (Marion) and No. 7 Dowling Catholic in the last week.
“I guess they just don’t get easy for us, but that’s ok,” Allen said. “It’s going to make us a better team in the end.”
Centennial will host Des Moines East in a Class 3A Region 5 semifinal on Wednesday. That game is slated for 3 p.m.
“I like where we are,” Allen said. “Our defense is playing well, and we’re finding ways to score. It’s maybe not a lot of goals, but it only takes one.”