By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Remember when the Springfield Catholic girls’ soccer team didn’t win a district championship?
Current Lady Irish players certainly do. In fact, they’ve based their 2017 motto around last year’s district-title game loss to Bolivar.
“We just said, ‘Never again,’” said Catholic junior forward Peyton McNabb. “Never again are we going to lose our district.”
For one season at least, that motto holds true.
The Lady Irish are headed back to the state playoffs with their 14th district title in 15 years, thanks to a 6-2 win over Rogersville in Tuesday night’s Class 2 District 10 title game.
McNabb had two goals, with Emma Skornia, Brinn Cooper, Kenzie Serrano and Kaleia Huttenlocher also finding the back of the net for a balanced Lady Irish attack.
“We have had a lot of distribution in scoring this year,” said Catholic coach Ben Timson. “That’s been a very good thing for us. We haven’t relied on one person.
“Emma Skornia’s scored a lot for us this year, as well as Payton McNabb and Brinn Cooper, but it’s not like we need four goals out of one person in a game. When you can distribute the scoring, you’re going to be a lot better off.”
Rogersville drew first blood against Catholic with an early goal by freshman Sophia Nixon, but Catholic quickly answered with scores from McNabb, Skornia and Serrano over a 16-minute span.
Danika Beaumont juked around multiple Catholic defenders and scored on a shot from about 20 yards out to bring Rogersville within 3-2 late in the first half, but Catholic again had an emphatic answer as Cooper scored less than 30 seconds later to give the Irish a 4-2 lead by halftime.
With the wind at their backs in the second half, Catholic unloaded a barrage of shots at the Rogersville goal, several of them hitting the post and crossbar. Second-half goals from Kaleia Huttenlocher and McNabb sealed the win for Catholic.
The Irish had a 19-5 advantage in shots on goal for the match.
“(The wind) didn’t help in the second half,” said Rogersville coach Brett Wubbena. “It was harder to get (the ball) off our end of the field in the second half. But, we fought.”
Catholic (17-4-2 overall, No. 2 ranked in Class 2 state coaches’ poll) will travel to the winner of the District 9 tournament this Saturday, May 20 for a Class 2 sectional game. Southern Boone (22-1-1 overall, No. 8 ranked in Class 2 state coaches’ poll) hosts Osage (8-14 overall) in the District 9 finals on Wednesday night, May 17.
The Irish are certainly happy to be back in the state playoffs, a year after their 13-year district title streak was snapped with a 1-0 loss to Bolivar, which also ended the Lady Irish’s run of seven consecutive final four appearances.
Catholic returned most of its players from that team into this season, and plenty of motivation as well.
“It left a lasting impression,” McNabb said. “When we lost, it really hit hard on all of us because we realized, for the first time, we weren’t going to the final four.”
Added Timson: “When you have a big streak like that, it means a lot to the program and the girls. Of course, they all want to continue the streak. When they lose, they feel like they’ve let a lot of people down. They really, really wanted to come back this year and win (districts).”
Rogersville finishes 13-7-2 overall and graduates a seven-player senior class. Nixon had a breakout freshman season for Rogersville, setting program records for single-season goals (28) and single-game goals (6).
“We put a little pressure on ourselves in the second half and I think (Catholic) realized maybe they shouldn’t just play around with us,” Wubbena said. “They (Catholic) were on and they looked good. They’re not in the rankings for nothing.
“We knew this was going to be the hardest game in our playoffs. If we could knock off Catholic, everything else would probably be a little easier, honestly.”
Catholic 6, Rogersville 2
Rogersville 2 0 — 2
Catholic 4 2 — 6
Rogersville (13’) – Sophia Nixon
Catholic (16’) – Peyton McNabb
Catholic (22’) – Emma Skornia (Ashley Andrews assist)
Catholic (32’) – Kenzie Serrano (Skornia assist)
Rogersville (37’) – Danika Beaumont
Catholic – Kaleia Huttenlocher (McNabb assist)
Catholic – McNabb