A pair of freshmen are paying dividends for the St. Dominic girls soccer team.
Forwards Grace Bindbeutel and Jess Larson have powered the offensive attack for the Crusaders (24-3-1, No. 3 in the STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings), who play Kearney (20-2) at 6 p.m. Friday at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City in a Class 3 state semifinal.
The partnership up top between Larson and Bindbeutel helped St. Dominic back into the state semifinals for the first time since winning an undefeated state title in 2013.
“Grace and I have been friends for as long as I can remember, and we have played soccer together for many of those years,” Larson said. “It is the best feeling to be able to be on this team with her and to help each other and the team succeed.”
Of the 133 goals St. Dominic has scored, the freshmen pair has 58 of them — Bindbeutel's 30 goals elad the team, and Larson is right behind with 28.
Additionally, the duo has 30 assists —16 for Bindbeutel, 14 for Larson.
“It has been such a fun experience getting to play with Jessica on the field because we highlight each other so well,” Bindbeutel said. “We go hand in hand scoring goals and assisting each other. We are both always willing to do whatever it takes to help one another and make the whole high school soccer experience an amazing one.”
The Crusaders are in search of their fifth state title to go along with the ones they won in 2001, 2007, 2012 and 2013.
St. Dominic coach Greg Koeller didn't hold back in heaping the praise upon the freshmen who will help lead that cause.
“Jess and Grace are credited as being two of the brightest young talents in Missouri high school soccer,” Koeller said. “The chemistry and understanding between them is almost telepathic at times. It is rare for two strikers to burst on the scene contributing 58 goals and over 30 assists (while) playing our competitive schedule. Two of their top traits are their pace and technical ability. Their flair, creativity, agility, and balance allow them to take opponents on in one-on-one situations, making it very difficult to dispossess them. Their finishing is top notch. There is not another tandem as dynamic and lethal in the area. They are fun to watch.”
The only previous meeting in the last 20 years between St. Dominic and Kearney happened in the same round in the 2013 Class 2 tournament. St. Dominic won that game 2-1 in overtime.
Friday's winner will advance to play at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Class 3 championship against either Summit (18-3-3) or Union (26-1-1).
“It has been such an exciting road to state, especially since the team has not been in so long,” Bindbeutel said. “It means so much to be a part of this amazing group of girls and I know we have what it takes to win."