The Timberland girls soccer team ran its record to 5-0 late last week when it knocked off Fort Zumwalt North 2-1 in overtime.
Not bad, considering the Wolves won just four times in 2011.
“Honestly, I'm not sure what the difference has been,'' second-year head coach Heidi Kleekamp said. “Believe me, if I knew, I would've tried it last year. Part of the problem here, I think, was continuity. When I moved up from the JV last year, I was the third different head coach in as many seasons. I can only imagine how hard that would be, trying to adjust to a new coach and to new ideas every season.
“But this year, rather than having to start over again, we've been able to build on some of the things we did last year.''
And, despite last year's 4-18 record, Kleekamp said the team's attitude was surprisingly upbeat.
“Even though we struggled, the girls never stopped working and trying to get better,'' the coach said. “I know I always made it a point to come up with something positive to focus on when I talked to the girls during and after games.''
A four-year player at Lafayette High, Kleekamp went on to play at Central Missouri. She considers herself a defensive-minded coach.
“When I played, I was a center midfielder. I enjoyed playing both ends of the field, and I think my coaching style reflects that,'' she said. “You want to be solid in all areas of the field, but you have to start with defense.''
Already this season, the Wolves reversed 2011 results with wins over Trinity (1-0), Orchard Farm (2-0), St. Charles West (5-1) and Zumwalt North (2-1). They also defeated the host school 2-1 to win the McCluer North Tournament to open the season.
“Getting a few wins right away definitely helped,'' Kleekamp said. “We gained some confidence, and we've been able to build on that.''
Kleekamp said the Wolves are solid in all areas of the field and have a good mix of talent in each class. Team leaders to date include senior Alex Seats (one goal, one assist) and junior Allison Lockett (one goal, two assists) in the midfield and freshmen Nicole Bascio (four goals, two assists) and Maggie Houska at forward and sweeper, respectively.
“We're a little concerned about Alex, who hurt her knee, but hopefully it won't keep her out too long,'' Kleekamp said.
Girls soccer success is not entirely new for Timberland — the Wolves tied for third at state in 2005 and placed fourth in 2006 — but Kleekamp wants her team focused on its next match.
“We're off to a good start, but there's still room for improvement,'' she said. “The GAC is always strong, and we know we'll be challenged through the rest of the season. I want the girls to feel good about the success so far, but I also want them to know that we have to keep working if we want it to continue.''
ROBBEN WINS 1,000
With a 3-1 win over visiting Northwest to open the season, Oakville provided Dave Robben with the 1,000th victory of his illustrious career. Robben, in his 34th season as a high school coach, entered this week with a record of 534-168-56 with the Tiger girls. His record with the boys is 469-243-75.
Robben, who guided the Oakville boys to a runner-up state finish in the fall, is one of only five area coaches to lead teams to state titles in boys and girls soccer — the only other area coach with 1,000 career wins, Vince Drake (Aquinas, Aquinas-Mercy, Trinity), as well as Dave Thurmer (Duchesne), Mike Villa (Vianney, Triad) and Steve Schad (St. Mary's, St. Joseph's).
Robben coached Oakville to the girls title in 1991 and to the boys championship in 2000. He also coached the Oakville girls to the Metro Cup title in 1983, two years before the Missouri State High School Activities Association held its first girls soccer state event.
PARKWAY COLLEGE SHOWCASE
The 11th Parkway College Showcase is scheduled for this weekend at the Anheuser-Busch Center in Fenton. The event, which will feature 15 high school games on Friday and Saturday, will also include four college spring exhibition matches:
• Illinois State vs. Southeast Missouri, 7 p.m Friday
• Southeast Missouri vs. Tulsa, 9 a.m. Saturday
• Quincy vs. Truman State, 11:30 a.m. Saturday
• Missouri vs. Illinois, 2 p.m. Saturday
High school teams slated to compete include Parkway West, Parkway Central, Parkway South, Belleville West, Carbondale, Collinsville, Farmington, Fort Zumwalt East, Fort Zumwalt North, Fort Zumwalt South, Fort Zumwalt West, Francis Howell, Francis Howell North, Glendale, Granite City, Hazelwood Central, Hazelwood West, Holt, Jackson, Jefferson City,Kirkwood, Marquette, Neuqua Valley, St. Louis Notre Dame, Oakville, Pattonville, Peoria Notre Dame, Poplar Bluff, Sacred Heart-Griffin, Kickapoo, Summit and Troy.
Action kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.
For the full schedule and more information about the event, check out: parkwaycollegeshowcase.com.
Emotions could run high Wednesday when top-ranked Incarnate Word hosts No. 7 Ursuline in a league match at 4 p.m.
It will mark the first time new Ursuline coach Annie Beekman leads her team against her alma mater and former team. Looking for a new challenge, Beekman resigned and took the job at Ursuline early last summer. She went 66-18-2 in four seasons as head coach with the Red Knights, leading the team to state titles in 2008 and 2009 and to a fourth-place finish last spring.
“For me, this is a win-win,'' Beekman said. “I love the girls at Incarnate, and I wish them nothing but the best. At the same time, I made a choice, and I'm working to make the best of it. I really like this team. I'm getting to know the girls, and they're working hard and doing everything I've asked them to do.''