Following sectional exit, Cats savor last hurrahOctober 11, 2013
From Herald Staff Reports
They sang, they laughed, they cried. They sang some more, and listened to one final sermon from Annie Stenftenagel.
Surely, it wasn’t the typical hourlong, post-loss bus ride, but perhaps nothing spoke to the Jasper girls soccer team’s unity better. As they saw it, the trek back from Newburgh offered one last time to celebrate. Together.
So they did.
They belted Kelly Clarkson, Hannah Montana and the tunes of “Pitch Perfect,” and Stenftenagel asked the bunch once last time, “Can I get an amen?!”
“We just felt like, ”˜We’re not going to be quiet on the bus. We’re going to have fun. It’s the last bus ride with this team,’” Wildcat goalkeeper Shannon Sonderman said. “Everyone’s crying and singing and just having a good time. Even though we lost, we’re still together.”
After nearly 60 minutes of scoreless soccer, Evansville North (12-4-1) compiled a trio of tallies in the game’s last 20 minutes, discharging Jasper 3-0 from the Class 2A girls soccer sectional semifinals Thursday at Castle.
Entering the latter half, the Wildcats (10-7-1) sustained credence that it was their match to win, Jasper coach Anthony Price said. And even late, with the match all but decided, little about the Cats’ demeanor dwindled.
“Our kids were very confident (entering halftime). It was one of those (matches) that had the feel of, whoever scored first is going to win this thing. But even when (North) scored first, there was no quit. We tried to get back into it, we had our chances,” Price said. “And I think that’s what I’m most proud of. Even when we had just a few minutes left and we went down 3-0, you didn’t see heads drop, you didn’t see a lack of effort.
“They fought till the end.”
Even late, Sonderman remained vocal from the goalie position after playing a “lights-out first half,” by her coach’s assessment. Price also acknowledged Elizabeth Day, who he said played the game of her career in the midfield, winning 50-50 balls and distributing with composure. Laura Renner joined her teammate with a solid performance in the middle, along with Emily Jones and Brittany Haskins, while Reagan Otto was a force as a holding forward as well.
Scoring chances surfaced, and Price felt the Wildcats even dictated play for large chunks of the second half. With the game still scoreless nine minutes into the second half, Otto’s attempted finish off a corner kick was stopped by a Husky defender, who some thought touched the ball with her hand. Jones launched a shot that the goalkeeper corralled in a frantic scramble. Stenftenagel then hit the post with the Cats down by two goals.
And though the finishes never arrived for Jasper, the squad’s late-season push — winning its final three matches before Thursday’s semifinal — spoke more to its character.
“Especially as we moved through these last two weeks, you saw these kids just pulling for each other to become the best team that they could be,” Price said.
After the match, Price was amazed when he watched seniors console underclassmen, when the reverse often seems more common.
“It’s a tribute to who they are as people,” Price said of the team’s seven seniors — Erin Moser, Jenna Leinenbach, Makala Osterman, Renner, Sonderman, Stenftenagel and Jones.
The future appears bright, as well. In a season in which the Cats integrated a bevy of young talent into the lineup, they witnessed potential sculpted into productivity.
“I’m so excited to see how they develop,” Renner said of the returning players. “To think that some of the freshmen now are at our level of playing as seniors, I can only imagine how they’re going to be as seniors. They’re going to have an amazing team because they have so much potential. They really need to ride that.”
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