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Notre Dame girls soccer relying on senior leadership after graduating key pieces

Senior Anna Garner will be a staple in Notre Dame’s midfield this spring. Photo by Jay Forness

Back in 2019, the Notre Dame girls soccer team won its second state championship in three seasons. The Bulldogs are feeling the repercussions of this success, though, thanks to MSHSAA’s championship multiplier for private schools.

Notre Dame has been playing up two classifications in Class 4 for the past two springs and have been unable to win a district championship since then.

However, the Bulldogs have still managed to win a combined 29 wins with only eight losses and one tie. Now Notre Dame will be tasked with replacing a number of graduating seniors this year, including one of the program’s all-time leading scorers in Allie Buchheit and all-state defender Kathryn Taylor.

Stepping up to play even bigger roles this season will be seniors like midfielder Anna Garner and defender Kristin Anderson, while the Bulldogs returning leading scorer sophomore forward Addison Clippard is also going to be another big key for Notre Dame.

Clippard was able to pace Buchheit’s team-high scoring total of 71 (27 goals, 17 assists) with 36 points of her own off scoring 13 goals and dishing out 10 assists. Garner finished with eight points as she made three goals off 10 shots and came up with two assists.

As for Anderson, she helped Notre Dame’s defense record 10 overall shutouts and only allowed 13 goals all of last season.

“Kristin and Anna are both highly skilled, high soccer IQ work horses,” Notre Dame head coach Ryan Schweain said. “Kristin as the center back and Anna as a center mid work very well together and do a fantastic job of controlling the central channel. Replacing Allie Buchheit to graduation is a difficult task. However, Addison Clippard returns up top for us, hopefully she can continue where she left off her freshman year.”

Coach Schweain believes Garner is poised to have the biggest breakout campaign of anyone on his roster this upcoming season after battling with an injury during her junior season. As a starter for Notre Dame’s basketball team this winter, Anna helped the Bulldogs place fourth in the Class 5 Final Four.

“I’m thinking she will be taking her game to the next level this season,” Coach Schweain said. “Her speed, tenacity, fierceness, and drive is really something special. That alone will push and pull the underclassmen to follow her lead.”

Two other seniors who will also contribute outside of Anderson and Garner will be defender Karlyle Kasten and midfielder Grace Young. Notre Dame will also have a first-year senior in Emma Steimle, and she will take over as the team’s starting goalkeeper left by 2022 graduate Isabel Knaup, who recorded 49 saves last season.

Like Garner, Steimle also had a successful winter but as a member of the wrestling program. She became Notre Dame’s first girl wrestler to ever earn an all-state medal by taking fourth place at 190 pounds in Class 1.

“This senior class is determined to have a good season,” Coach Schweain said. “Anderson, Garner, Kasten, and Young always give 100 percent, and they expect the same out of the underclassmen. I’m optimistic — It may take a handful of games for us to find our groove. We have many new faces on varsity, so it will take some time to gel and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Underclassmen Notre Dame will rely on heavily this fall include sophomores forward Cora Burford, midfielder Kolby Grimes and freshman forward Maya Thebeau, who are all going to be going to be a part of the Bulldogs offensive attack. Notre Dame’s pieces in the midfield like sophomores Mya Shaffar, Isabella Palmer, junior Vita Galati and freshman Mia Panton and Lolah Wunderlich to help their team’s offensive attack, too.

Even though the Bulldogs graduated an all-state defender like Taylor and their goalie, they bring back three of their four starters from the back line. Two of these players are, of course, Anderson and Kasten, along with sophomore Skylar Craft, who came off the bench and played plenty of minutes for Notre Dame’s state final four basketball team with Garner.

“Our back line is very strong this year and Kraft will be taking over Taylor’s role,” Coach Schweain said. “Also helping out in the back this year will be junior Rylee Britton, sophomores Sophia Emmons, Lyla Martin, Stella Schweain and freshman Elle West. Steimle and freshman Aidyn O’Daniel will be splitting time this season at goalkeeper with both having strength in different ways.

“I have a good, talented group of underclassmen. At this point, it’s too early to tell but a few player come to mind that I think might do really well. For our goals this year, I want us to improve daily, come together as a team and peak at the postseason.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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