Mehlville girls seek soccer success
By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
The Mehlville Senior High School girls' soccer went winless in its first four games last season.
The Panthers found themselves sitting on a 1-4-3 record after their first eight games and the whispers of a losing season became louder each day.
But then something happened. Some say it was pure luck, while others believe that the Panthers finally started playing like the team it was supposed to be. The Panthers racked up a record of 5-1-2 in their final eight games of the 2002 campaign before losing to Nerinx Hall in the semifinal of the district tournament.
The 2003 Panthers are hoping to improve upon their 6-5-4 mark from last season.
"We made a complete turnaround last season," Mehlville Head Coach Chris Werstein told the Call. "This year's team will be the newer version of Mehlville soccer."
The Panthers return eight players from last season, including the sophomore trio of midfielders Alli Schaughnessey and Lisa Krost along with defender Alana Wuertz. Schaughnessey lead the squad in goals scored with three, in which two were game winning goals.
"Alli is one of three sophomores who started for us last year," Werstein said. "They're three pretty important gals to this program."
Senior forward Maria Breidenbach will also serve as a scoring threat for Mehlville after racking up two game-winning goals last season. Senior defender Amy Meunch will look to solidify a strong defense that gave up only 1.25 goals last season.
Junior forward Karen Hines and midfielder Kaitlyn Deutsch should provide some experience up top as they play their second season on the varsity squad.
"Both Karen and Kaitlyn played on the varsity team for the first time last year," Werstein said. "They made some major contributions to last year's team."
One of the biggest spots to fill on this year's roster will be the loss of goalkeeper Grace Francis to graduation. Francis made 83 saves last season as she carried a 6-5-4 record in which she recorded an amazing seven shutouts. Freshman Melissa Giorgi and Kris Hines will compete for the starting goalkeeper's position and Werstein has made it clear that he will not use a system of rotating between the two goalkeepers.
"I've never been a big fan of rotating goalkeepers in and out of a game," Werstein said. "This is a real question mark for us because it's a major position to fill. We're going to have to wait and see who steps forward."
The Panthers will have an influx of new talent in sophomores Jessica Hawkins, Jamie Murphy, Casey Wydrynski, Lindsey Jolly and Lara Stuckel. Freshman defender Lauren Spurr along with junior Catrina Dittmann and senior Vicki Busso will join the varsity squad for the first time this season.
"The one element that remains to bee seen is our inexperience," Werstein said. "We were very competitive last season and want to have the opportunity to win and be as competitive as we can be this season. The future of Mehlville soccer isn't tomorrow, the future is right now for us."
The Panthers open up the 2003 season at home against Cor Jesu at 7 p.m. Monday.