While everyone else around her was losing their heads, Heather Hoeger kept hers.
In a match that featured six bookings and an official warning to the crowd, the North Scott junior keeper kept her calm and the sheet clean, making nine saves as the Class 2A No. 1 Lancers beat the Class 1A top-ranked and defending state champion Assumption Knights 3-0 Monday at the St. Vincent Athletic Complex.
"During the game, I just block out the fans and the other coaches and I just block it all out so it doesn't affect me," the junior keeper said. "This grows our confidence a little more and as a team it can continue to grow and get stronger."
What was expected to be a top-flight match between two top-ranked teams instead devolved into chaos and cards. All told, Assumption was issued two red cards and three yellows while North Scott was issued one red card.
The Knights (3-1, 1-1 MAC) were already without leading goal-scorer Carly King and were forced to play without leading scorer Molly Gervase after Gervase was issued a red card in the 32nd minute.
Even without two of their top players, the Knights controlled play deep into the game, but couldn't get the ball past Hoeger.
"The girls played as well as they could with the situation that was going on," Assumption coach Elizabeth Maus said. "They worked hard, they never gave up, even when we were down one player for 20 minutes, I felt we were possessing the ball well and pushing forward and keeping them from getting in on our half."
After North Scott's leading scorer Adelyn Carmody was issued a red card in the 62nd minute to even the sides, the Lancer attack, which struggled to connect for most of the game, finally hit. Rylie Rucker found Lauren Blake with a ball that gave Blake a clean run in on goal, and she buried in the 65th minute to give North Scott (2-1, 2-0) a 1-0 lead.
"As a team, we just knew to drown it out, not let it get to us and there was a lot of time where they were dinking it around and getting around us but I think as a team, you just have to stay solid, stay on your marks and when you have the opportunity, you've got to jump on it and that's what we did," Blake said.
"We know that, you're going to have games that aren't pretty, the ref may not always call your way but you just have to stay mentally positive and you've got to get the dirty wins sometimes."
Assumption had a look to tie it shortly after but Hoeger made perhaps her best save of the night, turning away an in-close attempt by Livy Lansing. From there, North Scott controlled the momentum, getting a goal on a free kick from Savannah Bogner in the 73rd minute after Assumption was issued its second red card and then Rucker headed a ball from her sister Karli into the net in the 76th minute.
For the Lancers, it's an important way to rebound from a loss to Class 3A No. 3 Iowa City West last week and an important step in the growth of the team.
"I hope it's a wake-up call a little bit, just with the energy level we need to play with," Lancer coach Dion Ayers said. "But I think it does show them we can win when we don't play our best. You're never going to go out there and play your best every single night and you've gotta have different people step up and shine. Tonight was Heather's night. In goal, phenomenal."
Both coaches said they'd never seen a game like Monday night's, and the challenge now is responding after a night filled with adversity.
"It's very hard. I thought the girls did really well given the circumstances keeping their composure," Maus said. "I commend our girls for the effort they put in with the situation they had to deal with and you know, North Scott put that one away when they had the opportunity and that was the difference."