OTTUMWA — Conditions were less than ideal Sunday at the Indian Hills women's soccer field.
The results, however, were exceptional for Bailey Wiemann.
The freshman from Burlington recorded her first hat trick for the 12th-ranked Warriors, setting the tone by scoring on a beautiful header in the 18th minute to open the scoring in a 5-1 Region XI tournament semifinal win over visiting Iowa Central on a soggy Sunday afternoon with showers persisting throughout much of the 90 minutes.
"It was ugly, but we got the job done. When the weather is bad, it's bound to be a little bit sloppier than we like," Indian Hills head women's soccer coach Anthony Longo said. "The pace was a little bit slower, but we scored goals. That's all that matters."
Before the rain really started to pick up, Wiemann put the Warriors on top ultimately for good. Ashlyn Haas fed the ball into the box allowing Wiemann to direct the ball past Iowa Central goal keeper Jasmine Krurfher while being closely defended on the run.
"That goal might be the best goal I've every scored," Wiemann said. "I wasn't expecting to score this many goals in this match, but this season I feel like I haven't scored as much as I wanted. I'm happy I could add these goals in an important part of our season."
Just over 12 minutes after scoring one of her best goals, Wiemann scored one of her easiest goals. Picking off the ball at midfield, Wiemann suddenly had a breakaway to the net from 40 yards away dribbling all the way to the box before finding an open portion of the net to feed the ball into, giving IHCC a 2-0 lead in 31st minute.
"To be able to get a touch on that and have that open field is something you don't expect," Wiemann said. "I'm just glad I could finish it."
While Wiemann was making the most of her chances on one end of the field, Elani Mears was keeping Iowa Central (6-6) from answering back. The sophomore goal keeper made six of her nine saves in the first half for Indian Hills, keeping the Warriors in front 2-0 at halftime.
"I think we came out a little bit slow halfway through the first half," Mears said. "They had good shots. They have some quick forwards, but I think our defense did a pretty good job shutting them down."
As the rain continued to fall, the wet field made things more difficult as players adjusted to a ball moving at a different speed on a slicker surface. Iowa Central finally got on the board in the 68th minute when Flavie Sallaz dropped a shot through the rain drops over the head of Mears to bring Iowa Central within 2-1, giving the Tritons life with the season on the line.
"I don't think it was anything we were expecting. It's just something you have to push past," Mears said. "As a goalie, it's more difficult to play in the rain. The ball is definitely skipping a lot more, so you have to be more on your toes and be ready on your feet for the ball to bounce in any direction."
Ultimately, those bounces worked in IHCC's favor. After drawing a foul at midfield in 76th minute, Riga Ogasawara sent a free kick deep down the field ultimately skipping quickly past the deepest defenders for the Tritons allowing Wiemann another chance to put a ball past Kurufher to put Indian Hills back on track for the postseason win.
"That was a beautiful ball by Risa and it skipped just enough to allow me to get around the defender," Wiemann said. "Every once in a while, weather like this can be an advantage. I think we were able to get on top of a lot of balls that were skipping forward."
Both moisture and IHCC goals continued to mount as time wound down on Sunday. Yui Okamoto scored on a pass from Makayla Reed in the 83rd minute before Weimann forced Iowa Central into an own goal with 1:15 left, clinching a fourth trip in five seasons into the regional finals for the 12th-ranked Warriors.
"You never know what can happen on a day like this," Longo said. "In the second half, we really settled into it and got the job done."
For the fourth time in five years, Iowa Western awaits IHCC in the regional women's soccer championship match on Wednesday. The Warriors have lost the previous three encounters, once in double overtime, once on penalty kicks and once by a single goal in the last Region XI championship match played in Council Bluffs back in November of 2019.
"This group is fearless. They're a confident group and they've gotten a result against Iowa Western (a 2-1 win over the Reivers on May 5, IHCC's first win ever between the teams). They know they can do it," Longo said. "The biggest difference in the past has been that we've wanted to beat Iowa Western. This year, the girls proved they can beat Iowa Western. If they came with that same determination and same attitude that we're not losing today, I think we've got a good chance."