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Triad vs. Waterloo girls soccer

Waterloo's Ali Scace (8) heads the ball past Triad's Kalie Gibbs during the Class 2A Marion Sectional championship on Friday, May 25, 2018 at O'Fallon High School. Paul Kopsky, STLhighschoolsports.com

For Waterloo junior midfielder Ali Scace and the Bulldogs, even though the season may be winding down, there is much to look forward to in the program's future.

That's because the 11 freshmen who joined the team this season have made the program scary good and, with no graduating seniors, the Bulldogs are set up to stay that way for some time.

STLhighschoolsports.com rankings - 5/6/2019 Large schoolsLast Week1. St. Joseph's12. Parkway West23. Nerinx Hall 34. Lafayette45. Triad 66. Fo…

“Coming in, I was very optimistic to see what this freshman class could do," Scace said. "They've really proven to everyone that they know how to play and can contribute on the varsity level. They have been playing really well.”

Waterloo (14-3-3) owns eight wins and a tie in its last nine games.

While freshman forward Payton Richter has led the offense with 23 goals and six assists, Bulldogs coach Chad Holden added the work of players like Scace (nine goals) can't be discounted.

“We have been very competitive with a very young team,” Holden said. “Payton is a goal scorer, but she's got a lot of other girls who are working hard to feed the ball to her."

While Holden had nothing but great things to say about the future, he said he's also pretty excited for the coming days of this season.

After playing Monday at Triad, Waterloo starts play in the Class 2A Chatham Glenwood Regional next week. The Bulldogs open with Taylorville at 4 p.m. May 14.

“We look forward to playing Triad each time,” Holden said. “We lost a shootout game to them earlier and those types of games just make us better. That's what we're looking forward to again this time. Then, we get to see some teams that we wouldn't normally in our regional. I really like how things have gone for the girls and the work they've put in all season. We'll only get to improve upon that, both in the playoffs and in the years to come.”

DAVIDSON PLAYING STRONG ON AND OFF THE FIELD

Affton junior Megan Davidson said she sees a great many parallels in her efforts in the worlds of sports and the arts.

On the pitch, Davidson is a junior goalkeeper for the Cougars, while on the bandstand, she plays the trumpet.

“Being an athlete and a musician both take a lot of time to become proficient or advanced,” Davidson said. “You also have to work well with others because you (take part in) something that is much bigger than yourself.”

In goal, Davidson has conducted a great defensive effort as she has amassed 207 saves — which accounts for the third most in the area, and neither of the other save leaders have as many wins as Davidson. She also has a 1.95 goals against average and two shutouts in playing all but 13 minutes for the Cougars (7-7-1).

“With us, as a team, not scoring many goals, Megan focuses on every save being a big save,” Affton coach Brian Mesplay said. “Megan makes the saves she's supposed to make, but she also comes away making saves that leave the entire coaching staff shaking their heads. She has made a wide range of saves. She has made point-blank saves, while she's also saved partial breakaways.”

Davidson said the work she gets keeps her mind right where it needs to be.

After all, she's faced double digits in shots in 10 games this season, including a high of 24 on April 12 against Orchard Farm.

“I like being busy in goal because my head is continually in the game,” Davidson said. “There is no time to think about anything other than the game being played right in front of me. I feel like there is a lot of pressure put on me in a game but I also think that my coaches trust me to perform in such a high-pressure role.”

NETZEL LEADS LIBERTY TO NEW HEIGHTS

Liberty sophomore forward Chloe Netzel is shattering records this season for the Eagles (7-6-1).

In her first year of varsity soccer, Netzel has 19 goals, which broke the former school record of 10.

Netzel has five game-winning goals and four assists for the fifth-year program.

"My success this season has been driven by my coaches and teammates who push me to get better as a player," Netzel said. "On top of that, my passion for the game allows me to put in time and effort outside of practice to improve my weaknesses."

Liberty coach Heidi Kleekamp said a performance like the one Netzel is turning in this season may be the one ingredient the program has been lacking.

“I've always felt that goal scoring was our missing piece," Kleekamp said. "I think we've had a pretty decent team the last couple years ,but you can't win soccer games if you can't score goals.”

Bolstered by Netzel's eight goals over the span, Liberty is 4-1-1 in its last six games. That span came after three consecutive losses in the Troy Tournament.

“There are a lot of new individuals on the team, so I think we're doing a better job figuring out that works and we're doing well playing off each other,” Kleekamp said. “We did not have a good week in the Troy Tournament, players were not playing to their potential. I think we regrouped after that tournament and realized we had to turn it around.”

PIKE HAS GATORS CHOMPING WAY TO VICTORIES

While the season has been up and down for Gateway Science Academy (8-6), one constant has been the play of junior forward Terryn Pike.

She has 23 goals spread out over 11 games for the Gators.

“I like being the one known for it,” Pike said of the offensive success. “It feels great to help contribute to the record that we have.”

Pike has scored four goals three times this season as those efforts came against North Tech, Christian Academy of Greater St. Louis and North County Christian.

As a sophomore, Pike tallied 12 goals for the program, which is in it fourth year of competition.

“She's been playing select most of her life and we moved her up to striker,” GSA coach Antonio DiTucci said. “She's really flourishing in that position. The teamwork has been great. First of all, academically, they are among the top students in the school. They don't have an ego and they are willing to sacrifice for the team to succeed. (Terryn) embodies what I call a student-athlete.”

Not only is she successful on the pitch, but Pike also holds a 4.6 grade point average.

That intelligence goes a long way to helping both Pike and the team succeed, especially now that opponents know she's coming.

“There have been games where girls know my number and they know my (statistics) going in,” Pike said. “They'll triple up on marking me, so it gets a little tough, but (I try my best).”

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