Few programs—in any sport—in Missouri have enjoyed the sustained success as seen by Springfield Catholic Lady Irish soccer. Since 2009, the Lady Irish have made seven straight final fours and won two state championships.
Even with the bump to Class 2 this past year, Catholic still advanced to the state semifinals before falling 2-1 to eventual champion Duchesne. The Lady Irish finished fourth, losing to St. Pius X 4-1 in the third-place game.
Last year’s success was built largely on the shoulders of a young team, too.
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“The season went well and we improved as the year went along," said 19th-year coach Ben Timson, who has been the coach at Catholic since the girls’ soccer program began.
The Lady Irish finished with a 20-9 record last spring and graduated six seniors, including three-time first team all-state defender Anna Skrade and all-state honorable mention players MacKenzie Guy and Rebecca Rosebrough.
In addition to replacing those seniors, Catholic has another huge hole to fill. Sophomore Peyton McNabb, the team’s leading scorer last year, tore her ACL in January and will miss the entire season.
Catholic does return first team all-state junior forward Emma Skornia, who will take on a bigger goal-scoring role with the loss of McNabb. “Emma will be looked upon to provide goals for us and put significant pressure on our opponent’s back line,” Timson said.
Also returning is second team all-state sophomore midfielder Brinn Cooper, who was the team’s second-leading scorer last spring as a freshman. “We will again look to her to control play in the middle of the field,” Timson said.
Seniors Maggie Temofeew, Maggie Greenley, and Ali Libel, and junior Rachel Miller are also back, as are sophomores Andrea Gray, MacKenzie Serrano, and Ellie Palmer. Palmer will share goalkeeper duties.
Five freshmen will enter the fold this year for Catholic and should make an impact. Katelin Knetzke will share playing time at keeper and should also see action as a central defender. Ashley Andrews and Kaleia Huttenlocher will get minutes in the midfield and forward positions, while Isabella and Sophia Sanders will contribute in the midfield and defense.
Catholic also has expanded its coaching staff this year. Mike Hines has joined the staff after many years coaching at Kickapoo and Republic and coaching the Catholic boys team last fall. Also helping out will be three former Missouri State players: Lauren Josten, Alix Opfer, and Kayla Seabaugh. “These coaches bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit our girls, and myself, greatly,” Timson said.
Expectations are always high at Catholic, and this year will be no different.
“We have a number of very good players who have played the game for a long time,” Timson said. “It will be my job to fit the pieces together into a cohesive unit that will perform well against the highly competitive teams we will face during the year.”