By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Nixa High School girls’ soccer has been winning district championships since the current class of seniors was in sixth-grade – and even before.
And, the Lady Eagles don’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
“Winning districts is always one of our goals, but we try to stay focused on the now and trying to get better every day,” said Nixa head coach Evan Palmer, who has been the only soccer coach in the Lady Eagles’ 22-year history. “We focus on the process and results will come, if we continue to improve as individuals and as a team.
“These seniors (Class of 2019) have been a big part of three district championships during their time here. They came into the program ready for varsity play and have done a fantastic job during their tenure here at Nixa.”
With last season’s Class 4 District 11 championship (a 3-0 win over Republic), the Lady Eagles captured their sixth-straight district title (their seventh since 2010), before falling 5-0 to Lee’s Summit West in the sectional round. Nixa advanced to four-straight quarterfinals from 2013-2016, and made it as far as the Class 3 semifinals in 2013 where it took fourth – its best finish to date.
Nixa finished the 2018 season with a 15-6-1 overall record, and completed an undefeated run through the Central Ozark Conference Large Division by going 8-0 and outscoring its opponents 44-1.
This season, the Lady Eagles will look to fill the holes left by high-scoring Chloe Cash and Hannah Ast, both of whom graduated last Spring.
Cash was the team leader in goals and assists (18 and 10), and is now playing soccer at Drury University. The forward was named to the Class 4 All-State second team, the Class 4 All-Region 3 team, was the Class 4 District 11 Player of the Year and named to the All-COC first team.
“She is a tough, strong, fast player who will be missed up top this year,” Palmer said. “She ended up fifth on the all-time scoring list.”
Ast, a midfielder/forward, scored 6 goals and had 1 assist last year. “A great utility player for us,” Palmer said. “I could put her anywhere on the field, and she did a fantastic job for us.”
But, Nixa returns more players this season than a lot of teams have to field a team – 19. And, three of those players are coming off ACL injuries – Lexie Rasmussen, Madisyn Pritchett and Karlie Hoskins.
The returning roster includes:
• Liz Davis (senior defender) – Had 2 goals, 4 assists last year; was named to the Class 4 All-District 11 first team, All-COC second team. “Excellent vision and touch on the ball. We need her to start a lot of our attacks out of the back.”
• Erin Crawford (senior midfielder) – 8 goals, 2 assists in 2018; all-district and All-COC second team; signed with Drury University. “She has overcome two ACL surgeries on the same knee and came back stronger than ever, having missed her sophomore season; had a very strong junior year and we are looking for another great year from her.”
• Annslee Glenn (senior defender) – 3 goals, 1 assist; all-district and All-COC first team; signed with Evangel University. “Starting center back the last two years; excellent defender; need her to lead the defense.”
• Hannah Lannutti (senior defender/midfielder) – 5 goals, 6 assists last year; all-district and All-COC first team; signed with Drury University. “Great defender; might need her to step into the midfield this year.”
• Erica Hartley (senior midfielder) – 4 goals, 6 assists last year; all-district second team; signed with Drury University. “Great on the ball; need her to facilitate a lot of our attacks; looking for a huge year from her.”
• Madisyn Pritchett (senior midfielder/forward) – 9 goals and 2 assists last year; all-district and All-COC second team. “Great attacking player. She tore her ACL this past Fall. Hopefully, she will be healthy for us at some point this Spring. Her speed and tenacity are such an asset for our team.”
• Hailey Clinton (senior defender/midfielder) – “She has been dealing with injuries the last two seasons, so hopefully, she will be healthy this Spring.”
• Lexie Rasmussen (senior forward/midfielder) – Had 2 goals and 2 assists in only 6 games in her first year at Nixa, after transferring from Seymour; signed with Southwest Baptist University. “Lost her to a knee injury early, but she is back and we are looking for big offensive production from her this year.”
• Riley McClintock (junior goalkeeper) – Has been the starter for two years; Class 4 District 11 Co-Goalkeeper of the Year and an All-COC first-team selection. “Excellent technical goalkeeper and smart. She had a .79 goals-against average, along with 10 shutouts in 2018.”
• Ellie Osborne (junior defender/forward) – 5 goals, 2 assists last year. “Played mostly at outside back, but can go forward and finish. Excellent speed and a hard worker. She is a huge part of our defense.”
• Lizzy Shaw (junior midfielder/defender) – 1 goal, 2 assists last year. “She can play anywhere on the field; very smart, versatile player.”
• Riley Woodward (junior midfielder/forward) – 1 goal, 2 assists last year. “She is a smart, physical player who makes a lot of plays out of sheer will.”
• Karlie Hoskins (junior midfielder/forward) – “Didn’t play last year; tore her ACL. She is back and we are looking forward to see what she can do at the varsity level.”
• Kaya Cocanougher (sophomore defender) – 2 goals, 1 assist last year. “Good, tenacious defender with excellent speed. We will need big minutes from her this year.”
• Abby Harrison (sophomore midfielder) – 5 goals, 5 assists last year. “Excellent and strong on the ball. She has great vision to find her teammates; will be a big presence in the midfield for us this year.”
• Katie Kamies (sophomore forward) – 4 goals, 4 assists last year. “Runs the wings extremely well; can finish and assist her teammates.”
• Bailey Reynolds (sophomore midfielder/forward) – 8 goals, 6 assists last year. “Was a starter as a freshman, which is hard to do. Excellent ball skills and knows the game; had some big goals for us last year and I am sure she will have more this Spring.”
• Ashlyn Stoneberger (sophomore defender/midfielder/forward/goalkeeper) – 1 goal last year. “She can play all over the field, even played keeper for us last Spring. She brings energy to the team; excellent player.”
• Kelsi Moore (sophomore forward) – 1 goal, 2 assists last year. “Last Spring, she worked her way up to the varsity. We need her to keep improving her finishing skills.”
Palmer, who has a record of 272-206-14 at Nixa, says the Lady Eagles will be very competitive again this season behind their team speed and skill, as well as their defense and ball movement. But, scoring will be a bit of a question mark, at least early on.
“We lost our leading scorer in Chloe Cash to graduation, so finding consistent finishers will be a key to our success this year,” Palmer said. “I feel we have girls to do it, but it might be more scoring by committee, which will be tough on our opponents to know who to key on.”
Nixa before opens the season against Glendale on March 19 at home.
“It has been a challenge to beat those Kansas City-area schools after districts, so that is definitely one of our goals, if we get that far this year,” Palmer said. “We are excited for the season. The girls have been working hard in the weight room and can’t wait to get going.”