Girls soccer has a new alignment this year. For those who missed my earlier story, MSHSAA has set up three equal classes with 16 Districts each (8 previously in Class 1 and 2). The intent is to offer Sectional and Quarterfinal games for every class. That also means there are twice as many District Champions this year (16 instead of 8). Somewhat reminiscent of Youth soccer (everyone gets a trophy) although as students of the game in this region are already aware, Class 1 District 11 would be a challenge for any team hoping to knock off the defending State Champion Fightin’ Irish, regardless of class.
There are three teams that will compete in the District this year. Joplin McAuley, Greenwood and Springfield Catholic.
The McAuley Warriors are aptly named, I always enjoy covering the ladies in Blue. Classic underdogs, the team struggled to maintain a roster of 11 players last year but never backed down. I don’t root often but it’s great seeing competitive games and the Warrior’s never disappoint. Their spirits are high this year as their team-sharing agreement with College Height’s kicks in. The two schools combined for one boys team last year (College Heights) and this year they Girls team plays under the McAuley banner. Rumor has it there could be as many as 18 on the final roster. Like most teams in the region, an influx of freshman will only help.
The Greenwood Blue Jays will field a young team that will also rely on some incoming freshmen. The team lost three senior starters, all in critical roles in the middle – Maddy Esther (currently playing at D3 Rhodes College), Maddy Smith and Caroline Jansen. There is one senior returning starter, Sydney Ganus (defender) last seen doing yeoman work in the District Final loss to Catholic, including clearing a sure goal by heading it out off the line. She’s joined by Sara Cook (11th grade), the twins Mary Margaret Kirkman (10th grade) and Anna Grace Kirkman (10th grade) along with Annabelle Chaffin (11th grade) in offering leadership for the young team. There are several freshman prospects that are expected make a difference including Anna Turner (defender), Kelsey Nau (midfielder) and Anna Martinez (yes, Alex’s sister from Glendale) at midfield. The most critical item will be identifying a goalkeeper for this team that had approximately two dozen out Thursday evening. Head Coach Chris Shull is being assisted by former Drury Panther Ally Reynolds this year.
How about the defending District and State Champion Springfield Catholic Fightin’ Irish? The Senior Class, led by midfielder Natalie Smid, is in my estimation the group that is most responsible for the regular run to State that has marked this program recently. They will be shooting for their 3rd straight trip to the Final 4 this season and a 2nd straight title. The most significant change for the team will be the loss of senior goalkeeper Rachel Scott. Scott, who has been accepted to Yale and has her sights set on a career in neurological surgery, is focused on preparing for that career this season.
The good news is that junior Megan Goetzinger, who split time in goal with Scott last season and was recognized with Rachel as 2nd Team All-State GK’s, returns and now takes charge in the net. She’ll have 1st All-State defenders Carsen Baron and Rebecca Mayus fronting her which is a plethora of riches any Coach in the region would enjoy. Add a pair of D2 college signee’s in Andrea Parker and Shelby Hatz, who will continue their careers at Drury in the Fall, and the Irish should continue their winning ways. Check out my earlier story for additional impact players.
There were over 50 players at practice on Thursday but it wasn’t a complete contingent as junior Bekah Bade (who scored the game-winner in the title game last June) among others was missing with the basketball season just ending. There are two freshman to keep an eye on going into this season as well. Nicole Ortega joins her sister Emily and Lydia Holtman follows in the footsteps of her All-Star sister Elle who is a senior at Rockhurst. With a senior class of 12, Coach Timson will need to find a balance that helps prepare the underclassmen for next year. A tough problem to have, he’s being assisted this year by Sarah Linsin and Jordan Reppell from Missouri State. Pretty nice role models when you can drive by a billboard and say – hey, there’s my coach!
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