Hannah Olive is headed back to the Class 3 state tournament for the second successive season with the Union girls soccer team.
The junior goalkeeper, however, will experience the event from an entirely different perspective when the Wildcats (26-1-1) face defending state champion Summit (18-3-3) in a semifinal game at 4 p.m. Friday at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City.
Olive provided eight goals and 12 assists last season playing in midfield during a season in which Union made its state semifinal debut.
This season, she's played every second in goal.
“I never really thought about it much,” Olive said. “I've just always wanted to go out and play to the best of my ability. I just go out there and do what I can.”
Union has allowed just 10 goals total this season, and Olive has recorded a program-record 21 shutouts.
The junior gave credit to the team's defense for making a difference on the scoreboard. The core of the Wildcats defense is sophomores Maddie Helling and Emma Cloud, junior Erika Toelke and senior Ella Keltner.
Olive took over in net for Lexi Garlock, who graduated.
“Our defense has been our backbone this year,” Union coach Matt Fennessey said. “Hannah, Maddie, Emma, Erika and Ella have been able to keep us in every game. Hannah won the competition at the beginning of the year. She hasn't looked back since. She has done outstanding and filling the shoes that Lexi left. We have been blessed with good goalkeeper me over the past several years. Hannah has continued that tradition.”
Freshman midfielder Logan Baeres said Olive's play has been a real shot in the arm for the Wildcats.
Baeres said that the entire defensive unit has provided Union quite a lift.
“(Olive) has stepped up so much and she is doing so good this season,” Baeres said. “She really has come up with some big saves. It's great that we can count on the whole defense. We have someone that can help us win games behind us.”
The other Class 3 semifinal features St. Dominic (24-3-1) and Kearney (20-2), which are scheduled to play at 6 p.m. Friday. The winners play for the state title at 4 p.m. Saturday while semifinal losers play for third place at noon.
Union made program history with a fourth-place finish in Class 3 last season, but it aims to do even more this season.
“The goal is definitely to take it up a step and that's what we're working for right now,” Olive said. “Hopefully, we can get there as a team this year.”