Editor’s note: Extracurricular activities, including athletics, for Jefferson County public schools have been postponed until at least April 6. We present the spring sports previews on the presumption that the spring sports seasons will start on or after that date. For updated information, check myleaderpaper.com.
All of the 2019 postseason honors for girls soccer in the Jefferson County Activities Association ended up in Perryville.
The Pirates won the conference title with a perfect 6-0 record and they had the player of the year in forward Leah Buerck and coach of the year in Jerry Fulton. Buerck, a sophomore this year, posted 39 goals and 103 points last spring.
All of those accolades couldn’t get Perryville past Cape Girardeau Notre Dame in the Class 2 District 1 tournament, however, as the Bulldogs won the title with a 4-1 victory.
Meanwhile, the hottest rivalry in the JCAA remains Hillsboro and Windsor. The Hawks and Owls have squared off for the Class 3 District 2 crown in the past two seasons, with Windsor winning last year and Hillsboro in 2018. The difference this season is the Hawks lost their two top scorers and Missouri High School Soccer Coaches Association Class 3 all-state players – Abby Schacht (first team) and Rachael Hamilton (second team) – to graduation, while the Owls return their two JCAA first-team players in Jordan Kolinski and Maddie Gillick.
St. Pius X remains in Class 1 District 1 and is in the mix for the conference title this year with the return of defender A.J. Agers and the Flanagan sisters – Molly, Kacey and Colleen. Agers scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win against Windsor last year.
Here is a look at each JCAA team from the county:
Owls eye another district title
Gillick and Kolinski were both honorable mention selections on the Class 3 all-state team last year. The two juniors helped turn Windsor’s season around from 4-11 at one point to winning seven of eight games at the end of the season. The Owls lost to Cape Girardeau Central 2-1 in sectionals and finished 11-13 in 2019.
“We can contend for the conference title, win our district again, and advance beyond sectionals,” said Windsor head coach Mike Hutchison, in his 13th season. “These are lofty goals, but we have a lot of returning players and a good group of younger players who should give us skill with the starting group and quality depth to maintain a high level of play throughout the season. Goals aren’t worth having if they’re not difficult to achieve.”
Kolinski (16 goals, six assists for 38 points) is joined at forward by senior Alyssa Weisner (six goals, five assists, 17 points).
“Jordan will lead the offense, but she can also help at midfield at times,” Hutchison said. “She’s a very versatile player who uses both feet well and has a great feel for the game.”
Hutchison said Weisner can play where she’s needed.
“She will sweep at times, be on the forward line and possibly play wing midfielder,” he said.
Gillick, who had 14 goals and 34 points last year, leads the midfield from the center, and she’s in the middle of wing midfielders, juniors Bella Spurgeon and Symphony Schodroski. Spurgeon anchors the defense and marks the other team’s best forward.
Hutchison said she’ll be more comfortable in that role this year.
“Maddie will help our transition game and create opportunities for the players around her,” Hutchison said. “She also shoots well with both feet and from the outside.”
Bella’s twin sister, Elizabeth, starts in the backfield. The Owls play man-to-man defense and try to be aggressive to the person on the ball to limit time and space.
Junior Piper Montgomery (1,926 minutes) played all but 12 minutes in goal last year and returns as the starter with sophomore Cierra Parker as her backup. Last year, Montgomery posted six shutouts and a goals-against average of 1.83.
“Piper has been the last line of defense the last couple of years and she continues to improve each day,” Hutchison said.
“She’s very good at getting to low balls, continues to improve on the high shots and crosses, and her distribution has improved each year.”
The Missouri State High School Activities Association released district assignments on Friday and drew up District 2 exactly as it’s been for the last four years with the Owls, Hawks, De Soto and Festus.
Lancers grooming their next all-state goalkeeper
From 2014 to 2017, St. Pius X goalkeeper Rebecca Hovatter was selected to the Class 1 or Class 2 all-state team.
A Lancer keeper wasn’t named to the 2018 all-state team, but Jordyn Spreck was one of three who were listed on the Class 1 squad last season. Spreck played all 1,600 minutes in goal for the Lancers and posted a 2.20 goals-against average.
“So goaltending comes pretty easy to us,” St. Pius head coach Aaron Portell said. “Those were two kids who had relentless training and experience. This season we do not have that varsity-level experience in the net.”
Seniors Rose Mary and Molly Bange are competing for time in goal. Rose Mary has played there on the JV level. Freshman Hannah Burch is training to be the Lancers’ keeper of the future.
“I believe (Burch’s) upside is tremendous,” Portell said.
Junior A.J. Agers is a forward who switched to the backfield for the good of the team. Agers brings 21 career goals to her third year. Agers was a first-teamer in the conference and on the all-state honorable mention team.
Returning to a team that finished 8-12-1, Molly Flanagan (defender) and her sister Kacey (forward) are seniors, while sister Colleen (midfielder) is a sophomore. Sophomore A.J. Stetina (midfielder), junior Molly Lewis (back), senior Madison Kurzweil (back) and junior Hannah Schappe (forward) are the other starters. Colleen (second team) and Molly (honorable mention) were all-JCAA selections in 2019.
“I feel we have a gritty team that will defend extremely well,” Portell said.
Hillsboro has played in final of districts for last nine years
You’ve got to go back all the way to 2010 to find the last year the Hawks didn’t reach a district final. They weren’t even in Class 3 at the time, losing to Union in the Class 2 District 2 quarterfinals.
Hillsboro, 14-8-1 last season, had won two straight Class 3 District 2 championships before being knocked off by Windsor last year. Before the loss, the Hawks outscored their opponents 16-2 to win four straight games.
A year after scoring a school-record 31 goals, Abby Schacht had 15 last season. She was a dynamic scorer from the midfield and had some monumental moments playing for her dad and head coach Chris Schacht, who enters his 20th campaign. Hillsboro carried 13 seniors, including nine starters, last season and the coach said he was still unsure about his entire starting lineup last week.
“I believe things will clear up as we go,” Chris Schacht said. “We only have two returning starters – Colleen Theiss and MacKenzie Baker – so the competition is alive and well each day.”
Four Hawks tended goal last season, with Baker eating up the most minutes (1,725).
Baker, who was the keeper of record in all 14 wins and was named honorable mention all-conference, posted nine shutouts and a low goals-against average of 1.16. She will face a challenge from Baylei Clubb this year.
“Both are athletic enough to play in goal and the field,” Schacht said. “We will be better if both of them can play at the same time. MacKenzie is extremely athletic and has good size. Baylei is talented technically with lots of experience. This is easily the deepest position on our roster.”
Theiss was second to Abby Schacht in scoring with eight goals and 21 points.
“She has some positive qualities that go with her experience,” Chris said.
The coach said replacing so many starters means the team’s style of play hasn’t materialized yet.
“Until we get a better feel for what we have and where everyone fits, it is tough to put a finger on it,” he said.
“Our goal is to be better entering May than we are right now. We’re working on a chance to compete for a district championship.”
Festus coach wants team to be more competitive
After losing two games to Windsor by a combined score of 16-1 to end the 2019 season, Tigers head coach Drew Clinton said they are better than last year’s final mark of 2-15.
“We only lost two seniors and have a little more experience because of that,” said Clinton, who enters his sixth season. “We have seven starters returning and we will be leaning on them if we want to accomplish our goals.”
Festus is four years removed from reaching the Class 3 quarterfinals. The Tigers beat Hillsboro in the Class 3 District 2 championship before beating Poplar Bluff in sectionals. Visitation Academy ended their 2016 season in the quarterfinals.
Claire Werner graduated after being on the JCAA first team for Festus last season. The Tigers’ other all-conference player from 2019 is sophomore Lillie Williams (second team), who plays forward and midfield.
“Lillie is one of our top returning players this season,” Clinton said. “We will look for her leadership on the field. I think one of her strengths is being able to identify situations in the game and being able to inform her teammates.”
Freshman Jersey Moonier will start in the midfield and Clinton said she has great vision and a high soccer IQ.
Sophomore Emily Holt can play at both ends of the field – goalkeeper or forward – and Clinton has been impressed with her hard work at both positions.
Senior midfielder Hayley Hodges is a returning starter and Clinton said during preseason practices, she has been more aggressive and confident.
Junior Gretchen Burkard (midfielder), sophomore Alayna Erxleben (forward, back), sophomore Samantha Helbrueck (back), junior Emma Horsley (midfielder), freshman Summer Sansoucie (back) and sophomore Jaiden Sells (back) are the other starters. Senior MacKenzie Warfel starts in goal.
Dragons want to bust out of long drought on pitch
It’s been eight years since De Soto won a district championship in girls soccer, and 2012 was also the Dragons’ last district victory.
This is Nate Reiser’s eighth season as head coach at De Soto and he has a simple message for anyone who’s listening: “I want to win!” he said.
He gets to try to turn around the Dragons’ 3-16-2 record last year with the team’s only first-team JCAA player, Amy Reiser, a senior striker, his daughter.
Scoring goals was De Soto’s main problem last year. They only put 13 goals into opposing nets while allowing 82. The 13 goals, however, was an improvement over the 11 scored in 2017 and again in 2018.
“Our focus this year is to take the game to the other team,” Reiser said. “We have been forced to sit back and accept what others have sent at us in the past. We now have a team with upperclassmen. We have the experience and seek to emphasize possession soccer.”
What the Dragons lack in scoring punch, they have an experienced keeper to help keep them in games. Junior Abby Pope returns for her third year between the pipes.
“She is a tall, strong presence and has improved her game the last three years,” Reiser said. “She has been forced to make too many saves in the past. I have been impressed with how she is reading the game this year.”
Other starters are junior Kameron Pehle (back), junior Bailee Howard (back), senior backs Kansas Nelson, Lyndsey Duffner and Jackie O’Harver, senior Cordelia Coleman (midfielder), senior Emily Patterson (midfielder), freshman Emma Tucker (midfielder), sophomore Riley Coleman (midfielder) and senior Madyson Young (striker).