The Class 1 Final 4 will open on Friday morning with an 11:00 am match between St Vincent and Orchard Farm. The Springfield Catholic girls will take the field to defend their State Title at 1:00 pm on Friday, opening with a semifinal against Kansas City-based Pembroke Hill. I’m picking St Vincent to advance to their second Final in three years where they will fall to Catholic for the second year in a row.
St Vincent Indians (21-4) –
Orchard Farm Eagles (17-7) –
St Vincent finished 3rd last year, beating Barstow 2-0 in the consolation game after falling to Catholic 1-0 on Natalie Smid’s 2nd half goal.
The team returns four All-State players from last season, led by juniors Kayla Seabaugh, a defender and a pair of forwards in Abby Lappe and Storm French, all 1st Team. Senior midfielder Emily Cissell was honorable mention and rounds out the group. Add freshman goalkeeper Katie Mattingly, who’s seen the difference between winning and losing while cheering her sister the last two years, and the team knows what is needed. Junior sweeper Storm French noted in the SE Missourian
“Now that the juniors and seniors have both experienced winning vs. getting third, we know what it’s like and we want to be back on top again.”
They’ve accomplished the first part of that goal by adjustments that have allowed the Indians to win 2 of the last 3 games in the second half. They went to halftime scoreless against St. Pius in the district title game and John Burroughs in the state quarterfinal contest. The Indians have allowed only 16 goals this season.
For the Orchard Farm Eagles, it all starts with Alexis Robbers (#2, Lou Fusz), an All-State first team midfielder for the Eagles as a sophomore last year who leads the team in scoring (29 goals, 13 assists) as a junior from her position. Robbers grew up in Largo, FL and moved to the St. Charles area prior to her sophomore season and has already committed to play for the MIAA Champion Central Missouri Mules. The Post Dispatch looked at the team early in the season and pointed to senior midfielder Andrea Liston and senior defenders Casey Kesselheim and Sareen Dargahi as keys to the season. Kesselhiem and Dargahi were key components in an Eagles squad that gave up just 36 total goals – or 1.44 per game – last season. Add in forward Brooke Burckhardt (24 goals) and the team has the tools to compete.
The school, located North of St Charles in the floodplains and farming community between the Mississippi and Missouri River, bounced back from last year’s OT loss to Trinity in the District Final to reach the Final 4 with an OT victory over Kennedy in the Quarterfinal on a pair of goals by Brooke Burckhardt, including the game-winner, and by Robbers. It’s the schools first trip to the Final 4 on the heels of its first ever District Title which will be the key difference in this game. Here’s the money quote for both teams however:
“It’s probably more gratifying this year than it has been the last few years,” St Vincen’ts Coach Wengert said about reaching the final four. “The first year you go, you don’t know what to expect. Last year, I thought maybe we went in a little overconfident and relaxed and didn’t play to our capabilities, whereas this year we’re definitely going to relish being in there and not taking anything for granted and we’re going to go do our best.”
Springfield Catholic (21-4) –
Pembroke Hill Raiders (13-13) –
The Fightin’ Irish won the title last year with two complete games, opening with their 1-0 win against St Vincent and followed with the 3-0 win over Trinity, sparked by then sophomore Bekah Bade’s game-winner in the second half. It was a measure of revenge for Catholic, who fell two Trinity 0-2 in the semifinal game the previous year as a combination of nerves and great goal-tending held them off. Like the St Vincent Indians, this team knows the difference between winning and losing and with 10 seniors who are making their third trip to State, this first game will set the tone.
The team is led by a quartet of 1st Team All-State players, starting in the middle with Natalie Smid (#16) who has been pulling the strings in midfield since her freshman year. The defense is anchored by Carsen Baron (#12) and Rebecca Mayus (#6) while Drury Panther signee Shelby Hatz (#14) provides breakaway speed on the wing and up top. Senior Andrea Parker (#2), headed for Drury with Hatz and Glendale’s Emily Cline, has moved into the middle with Baron providing a staunch, experience defense in front of junior All-Stater Megan Goetzinger in goal.
Junior Bekah Bade (#11), who scored the game-winner against Trinity last year, is joined up top by freshman Nicole Ortega (#8) while another freshman, Lydia Holtmann (#4) continues in her sisters footsteps at providing a skilled, hard-nosed midfielder to complement Smid. The Catholic bench goes 5-7 players deep which will play a significant role on the grass at Fenton as temperatures hit records for early June.
Pembroke, returning to Class 1 after finishing losing in the Class 2 District semifinals to O’Hara last year, return one All-Stater, 2nd team forward Camille Christie (#22) who leads the team with 24 goals scored. They have moved slowly up the Class 1 rankings this season, starting in the 6th slot to the 4th slot going into the Final 4. The team plays a strong schedule of Class 2 and Class 3 teams from Kansas City and Central Missouri. Elizabeth Wayda, also a junior, was 1st Team All-District along with Christie in 2010. Top scorers besides Christie include a trio with 6 apiece -Lilly Friedman, Erin Harvey and Wayda, while Kerry Levings has 5.
Pembroke has a history of success and it will not be an easy game but Catholic has 90 goals from five of their starters and speed to match every program in this region, losing only to Class 3 Glendale.