The six losses the Assumption girls soccer team has this season equal the number of losses the program has seen in the prior four years combined, all of which ended with state championships.
Despite the relative adversity, the Class 1A fourth-ranked Knights showed Monday they're still a team to be reckoned with, beating Class 2A No. 2 North Scott 1-0 at Assumption High School.
"We needed this one," Assumption coach Jonathan Dreasler said. "Today, finally I think we played 75 to 80 minutes of the game. This is huge for us, it's a confidence booster, it's what we needed going into the rest of the season."
With a blustery wind limiting chances, the battle between the two defending state champions in their respective classes was scoreless at halftime. In the 57th minute, Mallory King found Joy Ripslinger with a cross that went off the sophomore's knee and past North Scott keeper Lauren Van Blaricom.
King and Ripslinger are members of the Knights' track team, including running as the third and fourth legs of the 4x800 relay team that set a school record at the Drake Relays. That duo brings that connection over to the pitch.
"Great cross-in," Ripslinger said. "I'm always there trying to crash the goal and try to get whatever might pass behind everyone else. Mallory and I have great chemistry together."
The Lancers (7-4, 4-2) had their chances to tie the game but sailed several balls over and wide of the net, failing to challenge Assumption keeper Clare Gervase, who made three saves.
"This has been our team all year," Lancer coach Dion Ayers said. "We don't score goals and we've got too much talent not to score goals. Assumption played great, but we should be able to create more chances and have better chances and finishes."
Ayers said the Lancers' chances of competing for a Mississippi Athletic Conference championship are essentially done, with the ultimate goal of repeating as state champions now the main focus. That's also the goal for Assumption (6-6, 5-1), but a conference title is still within reach.
If Bettendorf beats Muscatine tonight, Assumption will move into a tie with the Bulldogs for first place atop the conference standings with a half-game lead over the Muskies. It doesn't get any easier from there, however as the Knights close out the season with three ranked opponents, including a regular-season finale at Class 1A No. 2 Iowa City Regina. Then the postseason hits.
"We have a crazy few weeks coming up," Ripslinger said. "They might get harder and harder each time and I think we're ready for it."