The Golden Bears certainly appear on their way to doing just that with a 7-1 overall record, a 3-0 mark in Area 5A and the No. 2 ranking in the soccerinfo.com Class A poll going into last Friday’s game against Pace.
Holy Innocents’ coach Stephani Kohl is pleased with how her team was able to prosper early on without a number of key players, including some who played for the school’s girls’ basketball squad that advanced to the Class A state semifinals.
“It’s been going good,” Kohl said. “We started off the season with a couple of injuries and our basketball team was doing really well. Actually, [the 2-1 win over Pinecrest Academy last Tuesday] was our second game that we had [the whole team]. We probably had five girls return after our spring break [in early March]. We started off strong. But, now, we have everybody out altogether this past week.”
Holy Innocents’ tries to build on its success of a year ago, when it reached the Class A final four — losing to eventual state champion First Presbyterian Day 3-2 (3-1 penalty kicks).
“With the group we had last year, we were expecting to make it through some of the state playoffs — but, not quite that far,” Kohl said. “We definitely worked hard and we were happy to be there. But, we’re hoping to go a little bit further.”
Kohl said this year’s team features a core of strong veterans that blends well with a number of promising newcomers.
“We’ve added nine freshmen to the roster,” Kohl said. “But, we do have five seniors, so we do have a good balance. We have good senior leadership, good mentoring. It’s a good group across the board.”
Senior midfielder/striker Julia Bird had 13 goals and five assists as of last Friday, while junior striker Grant Wilmer (eight goals, 12 assists) is the other leading scorer.
Senior Bailey McBride leads the way on defense, along with sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Belisle (69 saves, 12 goals allowed). Junior Madeline Gibson anchors the midfield.
While facing the challenge of playing in an Area 5A that includes 2012 state quarterfinalists Pace and Galloway, Kohl is confident her team can earn another state playoff berth and make a deep run once again.
“There’s a lot of potential on the team,” Kohl said. “That’s definitely our goal, to continue our state playoff run and hopefully make it a little further. We’re definitely in a tough area, so we’re focused on game by game.”