It would be hard for the Triad girls soccer team to top what it accomplished in 2011, but coach Mike Villa wouldn’t mind a repeat performance.
Triad (22-2-1) capped last spring's season by beating Marian Catholic 2-1 on penalty kicks in the Class 2A state final. It was the first state championship for the Knights.
“Winning a state championship is always a great accomplishment,” said Villa, who won seven boys titles during a storied run at Vianney. “I hadn’t won any here at Triad, and the school hadn’t won any team state championships. Finally winning one is good for your program, and it makes everyone excited about what’s going on. Triad draws from Troy, St. Jacob and Marine, and they had parades for us in all three communities.”
The Knights lost nine players to graduation, including seven starters. The most notable name on that list is Rachel Tejada, who had 42 goals last season and 133 in her prep career. At Illinois State this year, Tejada was a freshman all-American, set the school record for goals and was the most valuable player in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“It’s extremely difficult to replace somebody you knew was going to score a goal in every game,” Villa said. “But we do have some senior leadership on our forward line.”
Two of those players, Alyssa Patterson and Erin Sullivan, are team captains. Patterson had 16 goals and 11 assists as a junior, while Sullivan had 12 goals and six assists. The third returning starter, Alyssa Wilde, had six goals and seven assists.
Senior Madalyn VanPelt (five goals, 10 assists) and junior Natalie Sipole (four goals, nine assists) return at midfield. Sophomore Meredith Wendt (seven goals, three assists) is the third midfield starter, with sophomore Sachi Kobayashi coming off the bench.
The defense will count on Abby Hall in goal. Serena Hewlett will play stopper, Kyndall Keller will be the sweeper and Cailyn Jonas and Claire Stark will be wide backs.
Triad opened its season last week in the Metro Cup at Metro-East Lutheran. Sullivan scored in both games as the Knights won 2-0 against Freeburg and 1-0 against Rochester. Hall was in goal for both shutouts.
The championship game, slated for Saturday night against defending Class 1A state champion Alton Marquette, was postponed due to wet field conditions and has not yet been rescheduled.
The Knights were scheduled to play Tuesday at Highland and play at defending Class 3A champion Granite City on Wednesday.
“This is my 14th year of coaching girls soccer in the Mississippi Valley Conference, and we’ve had a few ties, but we’ve never lost (a conference game),” said Villa, who also coaches boys soccer at Triad. “We’d like to keep that record rolling.
“I didn’t think you can rule out another state championship, but we know it’s going to be a lot harder.”