A beautiful day and time for a road trip to check out the Christian County squads and how the first week is treating them. First stop Nixa where Coach Evan Palmer was demonstrating some of the moves that held him in good stead as a Missouri State Bear. The Lady Eagles open 2010 coming off of their best season ever in 2009. Nixa won 16 games, blowing past the previous record of 12, scoring 80 goals while giving up only 30, both records as well. The team won its first tournament taking first in the Christian County Tournament while the JV squad was also setting records at 15-3.
Hannah Barber, a sparkplug and All-Star in 2009, is the most significant loss. The team brings back a solid core, starting in the back with junior keeper Kristin Miller, Team MVP in 2009, fronted by senior Maddie Chandler who was Defensive MVP. Jo Pavlowsky and Ashlyn Robillard join Chandler as the senior leaders for this still young squad that includes Regional 1st teamers Rachel Murphy, a sophomore forward and Kelsey Haist, a junior midfielder. Add in Sophomore Abby Turnbull at sweeper and junior front runner Kelsey Bartell and the Eagles are prepared to challenge again this year. The Eagles add sophomore transfer Lauren Moats, who won a Kentucky State Cup with Javanon before moving here when dad Kyle accepted the Missouri State AD job, and freshman Brittany Kirkpatrick to this developing squad. The final game of the season came in the District semi-finals with a tough loss to Glendale. While they won’t surprise anyone this year, I suspect their goals will be higher and they’ll have a solid opportunity to achieve them.
Befitting the weather and a 4th day of practice, the Tigers were the most active squad I’ve seen at this early stage. Working small spaces and transition, this looks like a team on a mission. When last seen, the girls were being shut out by a Chiefs team in the District semi-final that the Tigers had hammered 3-0 two games prior. With seven returning seniors, five of whom will likely be playing college soccer next Fall, the focus is understandable.
Starting with 1st Team All-State sr. goalkeeper Paige Hemphill (SBU Bearcats), sr. Megan Jenisch and jr. Jayme Braun on defense, sr. Megan Stodden and sr. Rachel Haden (SBU Bearcats) in the midfield and sr. Alicia Collard and sr. Megan Gunnels at forward, the Tigers are prepared to go toe-to-toe with with any team in the area. The team has added one transfer, Shannon Lacker, from Ft Zumwalt South in St Louis. There are 9 underclassmen who have another year of experience and the largest senior class I think we’ll find in the region. Will this be their year?