Since 2016, two of the top-three goal scorers in Notre Dame girls soccer history have worn the jersey number 16, which was current Southeast Missouri State Redhawk Megan Heisserer from 2016 to 2019 and Allison Buchheit for the past three seasons.
The Bulldogs No. 16 has now changed owners once more as Notre Dame’s current leader in points, goals and assists is rightfully sporting the number. This just happens to be sophomore forward Addison Clippard, who, of course, played with Buchheit last season and watched Heisserer play during her high school career.
Clippard is also now being coached by Heisserer as Megan stepped on as a new assistant for Notre Dame last spring, along with fellow two-time state champion Julia Williams. Heisserer is the Bulldogs all-time leading scorer with 378 points (156 goals, 66 assists), while Buchheit is third at 155 (54 goals, 47 assists).
“It’s pretty cool because Allie wore No. 16 last year, so it feels pretty good to wear her number,” Clippard said. “She was a big mentor for me and is a very good role model. I watched some of [Heisserer and Williams’ ] games when they played at home. It was very exciting knowing I was going to play at Notre Dame like they did — I couldn’t wait to be a freshman.”
Clippard has had no issues stepping up as Notre Dame’s leading scorer after finishing second in points last season at 36 (13 goals, 10 assists) to Buchheit’s total of 71 (27 goals, 17 assists). Through 11 matches, Addison has produced 12 more points than any other Bulldog with 24 as she’s scored nine goals and dished out 10 assists already. One way Addison has been trying to separate herself in her sophomore campaign is by being able to score with her left foot and not just her right one.
“I just take the defender on and get an open chance with my left foot and take it instead of cutting it back,” Clippard said. “I find the space, and I think I’ve gotten really good at beating my defender and coming around them,” Clippard said. “After I beat that defender, I can get that cross [pass]. Practice, practice, practice.”
Notre Dame currently has an overall record of 7-2-2 and was on a five-game winning streak before falling by one goal to out-of-state Belleville East 2-1 in the Fralish Showcase. The Bulldogs bounced back with a 9-0 win over Anna-Jonesboro to conclude the tournament.
In the final win of Notre Dame’s five-game streak, Clippard helped lead the Bulldogs to a shutout win over SEMO Conference opponent Saxony Lutheran (5-3) by scoring the game’s opening goal. Scoring Notre Dame’s insurance goal in the win was senior midfielder Anna Garner, which also was her first goal of the season.
Pacing Clippard in scoring for Notre Dame is fellow sophomore forward Cora Burford, who has registered 12 points with five goals and two assists. Tied for third in points for the Bulldogs with nine apiece is senior defender Kristin Anderson (three goals, three assists) and freshman forward Maya Thebeau (four goals, one assist).
Four more bulldogs have produced five or more points as senior defender Karylyle Kasten (two goals, two assists), freshman midfielder Lolah Wunderlich (two goals, two assists) and sophomore defender Skylar Craft (three goals) each have six. Pacing them with five points is senior midfielder Grace Young as she’s scored two goals and delivered one assist.
“This season has been awesome — we’re working together as a team, and I hope we can keep doing that,” Clippard said. “We’re doing really well. “I love Maya Thebeau — working with her is really nice. Getting to work with her and the midfield — a great midfield — we’re doing well. We come to practice ready to work and try to get better every day.”
One thing that has been a motivation for Clippard has been seeing Notre Dame players like Heisserer, fellow two-time state champions Abby Wilson, Kristen Tarno and 2021 graduate Hannah Miller go on to play college soccer at SEMO (D-I), William Woods (NAIA), Central Methodist (NAIA) and Kaskakia College (JUCO), respectively.
Along with that, one of Clippard’s teammates Anderson will be continuing her career at SEMO like Heisserer did starting next fall.
“It’s cool seeing so many girls from Southeast Missouri playing college soccer, and that’s one thing I like about being around here,” Clippard said. “We have one right now with Kristin Anderson. That’s very cool, and I’m very proud of her.
“It can be a little scary going against her,” Addison laughed. “But I really love Kristin — she’s really fun to play with. When we get on the field, we put our shoes on and go to work. We do really well at being competitive against each other even though we’re friends.”
Since she’s witnessed so many players accomplish the feat, playing soccer at the next level is also something Clippard has been thinking about doing. Like all college players from the area, Clippard started playing soccer for the Southeast Missouri Soccer Club (SMSC), which is run by SEMO coaches Heather and Paul Nelson.
“I love playing in Southeast Missouri,” Clippard said. “People are always like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to play in St. Louis?’ I’m like, ‘No, I like it here, and I played club here all throughout my career.’ SMSC is such a great program.”
This was the team Clippard played for outside of school soccer ever since she first started playing as a kid until her freshman year. Funny enough, Addison actually began her career playing defense when it was nine versus nine, but she was eventually put on offense at her current position of forward.
“The coaches put me there once, and I just tried it out and really liked it,” Clippard said. “I was like, ‘If you don’t mind, I’ll stay here.’ I love everything about soccer — friends, being on the field and getting exercise is all great, and I love it.”