Pleasant Valley plays just two seniors and at times can have as many as nine underclassmen out on the field.
Though young, the Spartans are showing signs of growing up.
Thanks to a pair of freshmen, Class 3A No. 9 PV edged Class 2A No. 11 North Scott 1-0 Monday at Spartan Stadium, keeping pace with Muscatine for third place in the Mississippi Athletic Conference race with one game remaining.
"We've just grown in the connection and skill we have together," freshman Camryn Woods said. "We're starting to get it together."
Woods scored the game-winning goal, taking advantage of a miscue by the North Scott defense to get a foot on a ball from Morgan Rinker, just rolling the ball inside of the post in the 76th minute.
"I think the defender was going to let the keep have it and it went right past her and I got my left foot around it and it barely twisted in," Woods said. "This game just really set us on that high bar that we can win as a team together in a close game and we can come out in the end together as a team."
North Scott (8-7, 4-4) had a chance to tie the game a minute later but a point blank look rolled just wide of the net.
It wasn't the only good look the Lancers failed to capitalize on, though one was because of a heads-up play by another PV freshman, Jayne Abraham.
Abraham came streaking from the right side of the penalty box to get a foot on a shot attempt from North Scott in the 70th minute.
"I just saw it coming and it was so close, I didn't want to have to go into PKs, I just wanted to get it over with and I wanted to win fair and square," Abraham said. "When you have a victory like this, it's a tight game and everyone's in the moment, when you get that win, it ensures the season isn't over and we can keep going and we have a lot left in our team."
All told, the Lancers had three solid chances to score but couldn't capitalize on any of them. After tough losses to Bettendorf and Iowa City West, the Lancers had the last three days off and came out with a better effort against the Spartans (9-4, 6-2).
Though North Scott has lost three straight games for the first time since 2013, head coach Dion Ayers thinks the team is trending up with two games left in the regular season.
"I thought this was one of the better games we'd played in a while," head coach Dion Ayers said. "Even the girls, after the game, the first thing I asked them was 'What did you guys think?' And they said, 'This is our best effort in a long time.' Now, we've got to build off that."
Pleasant Valley gets another chance to grow this weekend with two games Saturday against seventh-ranked Dowling Catholic and No. 10 Johnston. A final MAC game against No. 13 Muscatine follows, then the postseason arrives.
The Spartans hope this tough finish can help prepare them for the playoffs, and a return trip to state.
"It's a learning year for sure and my hope is that we are getting better because of that and by the end of the year we're playing our best soccer," PV head coach Ed Knupp said. "We're excited for the opportunity, just to see how fit we are and good teams that will get us ready for the speed of play it will take to get to Des Moines."