MARYLAND HEIGHTS • Each game players on the Pattonville girls soccer team work together to beat an opponent.
At the same time, the Pirates battle each other in a competition for the team's "championship belt."
While it may look like a toy, the belt — modeled after a professional wrestling title belt — is serious business.
That's how junior midfielder Emily Schrumpf saw it Monday when she was awarded the belt by scoring a goal and adding three assists in the Pirates' 6-0 home win as part of the Peyton's Pals round-robin tournament.
“I think this is my second time getting the belt,” Schrumpf said. “It's pretty serious and it's to get everyone to work hard. It's a great thing for motivation. It gets us thinking as a team about who really is working hard and what they've done.”
Pattonville coach Jason Sellers, who said he started the tradition of the belt years ago, brought it back with the boys at Lafayette in the fall and now with the girls at Pattonville.
Sellers said the belt has become a coveted prize that is earned by a vote of the players after every game.
“Oh yeah, they wear it with pride — they even wear it around school during the school day,” Sellers said. “This is a big thing for them. I think it's great because it does a lot to raise the level of the team's game.”
Pattonville (11-4-1) won its fourth consecutive game by snapping a five-game win streak for Rosati-Kain (11-4).
The Pirates got two goals each from a pair of sophomores, Cierree Pogue and Kaeli Benedict, along with one each from Schrumpf and freshman Kate Germano.
Pogue's first goal came in the sixth minute as the Pirates rolled to a 3-0 halftime lead.
“We worked hard because we've had kids playing out of position and it's something we've had to deal with,” Sellers said. “Schrumpf has been playing in the back all season and played her first game at wing mid today and did very well. The girls have been working very hard.”
Junior Talia Sinclair and senior Morgan Kaemmerer shared time in goal, splitting the shutout. Sinclair earned the win, playing the first 40 minutes and making two of the four saves.
Kougars coach Bill Taylor said his Class 2 team got what it wanted against a Class 4 opponent and will continue to do so in tournament games against Mehlville and Liberty.
“The tournament is about seeing schools bigger than us, schools we don't traditionally see,” Taylor said. “That's to give ourselves a new challenge. We get different looks that we want to help prepare us to make a run deep into the postseason.”