By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Expectation always are high for the Nixa Lady Eagles’ soccer program. But, for the first time since 2013, the Lady Eagles did not come home with a district championship in 2019. They were upset by No. 3-seed Ozark 2-1 in overtime in the Class 4 District 9 semifinals.
“The girls still talk about the Ozark loss, so they have been working hard in the weight room and can’t wait to get started,” said Evan Palmer, the only coach in Nixa’s soccer history (286-212-14 girls’ record; 618-472-36 combined boys and girls).
Nixa finished 14-6 overall and won its seventh Central Ozark Conference title going 9-0, while scoring 69 goals and allowing just 3 in conference play.
A key to that success was a group of seven seniors, who were part of three of the six-straight district championships, and four who are playing college soccer.
• Lexie Rasmussen scored 17 goals, had 7 assists and earned Class 4 All-State Second-Team, Class 4 Region 3, all-district and all-conference first-team honors. She is playing at Southwest Baptist University.
• Erica Hartley scored 11 goals, had 10 assists and was named to the all-region, all-district and all-conference first teams. She is playing at Drury University.
• Hannah Lannutti scored 3 goals, had 2 assists and earned all-region, all-district and all-conference first-team honors.
• Erin Crawford scored 4 goals, had 6 assists and was an all-district and all-conference second-team selection. She is playing at Drury University.
• Annslee Glenn had 3 goals and 3 assists and earned all-district and all-conference second-team honors. She is playing at Evangel University.
• Liz Davis had 3 assists and was named all-conference honorable mention.
• Madisyn Pritchett, who returned late in the season from a knee injury, scored 2 goals.
Despite those losses to graduation, Palmer has plenty of talent and experience returning to the pitch this season.
• Ellie Osborne, senior, defender – Scored 4 goals and had 3 assists. “She has been a starter for 2 years; great speed, tough to beat in the back.”
• Lizzy Shaw, senior, midfielder/defender – Second-leading scorer with 11 goals and 14 assists. “Very versatile player; has played defensively and on the attack.”
• Riley Woodward, senior, midfielder/forward – Scored 2 goals and had 2 assists. “Tough defender; works hard and just makes things happen.”
• Karlie Hoskins, senior, midfielder/defender – Scored 7 goals and had 3 assists. “She will be ready to go this season (after suffering a knee injury in the fall), which is a relief.”
• Katie Kamies, junior, forward – Scored 7 goals and had 4 assists. “Had a great year going last year, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in late April; excellent attacking player; looking for a big year from her.”
• Bailey Reynolds, junior, midfielder – Scored 6 goals and had 8 assists. – “Excellent touch and feel of the game; controls the center of the field well.”
• Abby Harrison, junior, midfielder – Scored 6 goals and had 3 assists. “Controls the center mid along with Bailey; very strong on the ball and great in the air.”
• Kaya Cocanougher, junior, defender – Scored 3 goals and had 5 assists. “Excellent speed; defends really well; will be an anchor on our defense the next two years.”
• Ashlynn Stoneberger, junior, midfielder/forward – Scored 1 goal and had 2 assists. “Has a great motor; an intense competitor. She also is coming back from a season-ending ankle injury. We will need great minutes from her.”
• Kelsi Moore, junior, forward – Scored 4 goals and had 1 assist. “Great speed. She has been tearing up JV defenses; now we need her to do that on the varsity level, which she will.”
• Lexi Rapert, junior, defender – “Strong, smart defender. With losing three starters on defense, she will need to step in and give us solid minutes this year.”
• Madelyn Wilcox, junior, goalkeeper – In 4.25 games, had 1 goal scored against, 12 saves, 3.25 shutouts and a .24 goals-against average. “Madelyn is becoming a great goalie. She has big shoes to fill, but will do a great job this year.”
• Emma Hartley, sophomore, midfielder – “Excellent touch; can be too unselfish at times. Once she goes forward, she is a huge threat to defenses.”
• Emily Sutherland, sophomore, forward – “Very good attacking player; excellent finisher. We will need her to score some goals for us this year.”
One key piece of the Lady Eagles’ recent success has been goalkeeper Riley McClintock. The senior will miss her final high school season because of concussions suffered during her career.
In 2019, McClintock was named Class 4 District 9 Goalkeeper of the Year and earned all-conference honorable mention honors. Palmer calls McClintock, “one of the best goalies to come out of southwest Missouri,” but is confident that Wilcox and Madison Snelson “will step up and do well” in filling McClintock’s shoes.
Among the newcomers the Lady Eagles will look to make an impact this season include:
• Emma Light, junior, defender/midfielder – “Emma has improved tremendously. She could get time on the back line as well as in the midfield.”
• Gracie Kindell, junior, midfielder/defender – “Versatile player; great feel for the game; also coming off a season-ending ankle injury.”
• Madison Snelson, sophomore, goalkeeper – “Improving a lot at goalie; great to know we have two quality keepers.”
• Josie Karlson, sophomore, defender – “Very good in the back; tough, solid defender.”
• Kailey Tate, sophomore, defender – “Defends very well; smart player.”
• Reagan Neal, sophomore, midfielder – “Very strong on the ball; always moving; never tires.”
“There are many girls on our JV over the last few seasons that would be starters on other varsities,” Palmer said. “We have been very deep and these girls are ready for varsity. We have a great freshman class. There aren’t that many, but they are high quality.”
Nixa’s schedule always is challenging year after year. The Lady Eagles got big wins last season over Columbia-Rock Bridge, NW Cedar Hill, Catholic and Republic. This season, Nixa will be going to the Parkway Showcase in St. Louis, playing Rockwood Summit, Liberty North and Pattonville. It also will participate in the Kickapoo Shootout, and will face St. Teresa’s and local teams like Kickapoo, Glendale (March 24) and Ozark to prepare the Lady Eagles for the postseason.
But first, the Lady Eagles will participate in a jamboree at Kickapoo with the Lady Chiefs and Glendale on March 12.
“We could get to 300 girls’ wins this year, a definite goal,” Palmer said. “We have some girls that could break into the top 20 in scoring all-time at Nixa, so we will see.
“We have a lot of experience coming back, both of our senior and junior classes have been on the varsity for 2-3 years. We also have some very good young players who are hungry to prove themselves. I am very excited to see what this team can do.”