Roughly over a year ago, disappointment hung in the air. The 2016 Bishop Chatard Girls Soccer team’s regular season had been a rousing success, but had also ended prematurely. Second year coach Courtney Burchett had guided her squad to 14 wins and 1 draw. Their only two defeats came at the hands of the eventual 2A State Runners-up (Brebeuf Jesuit) and Cathedral in double overtime of the City Championship. They had been the top ranked team in their class for most of the year and had expectations of making a deep playoff run. All of this came crashing down when they were defeated by Heritage Christian in the second round of the Sectional. As crushing as it may have seemed at the time, Burchett knew she had a wealth of talent coming back and that this setback could serve as fuel for bigger things in 2017. Now she finds her team on the verge of those “bigger things.”
Coming into 2017, Bishop Chatard had a strong nucleus of seniors returning: forwards Sophie Sergi, Sara Wallander, and Emma Kennedy; midfielders Casie Maexner, Erika Campbell, and Maddie Walters (co-captain); defender Bridget Nash (co-captain); and goalkeeper Jess Friederick. This core group, along with junior standouts Elizabeth Jacobsen (co-captain/verbally committed to Indiana) and Rebekkaha Guess, was determined to finish the mission they had started the year before. Their leadership has proven to be invaluable.
“They practice hard consistently, hold their teammates accountable, and push themselves and others to get better daily,” proclaimed their coach. “My motto for our team is to just get a little bit better every day, and that is what we have done.”
The regular season started off strong. Chatard earned three victories by a combined total of 13-0. They then went 3-3 over the next six matches, with losses to nationally ranked conference rivals Brebeuf and Guerin Catholic, as well as eventual Regional opponent Batesville. From there, they went on a run of six consecutive shutout wins, finding the back of their opponents’ nets 28 times.
Then came the City Championship…
The City Championship marked the first time Cathedral and Chatard had met in 2017. Chatard jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but saw the score tied in the closing seconds of the second half. With the score remaining tied (3-3) after both overtime periods, the Trojans went on to lose in penalty kicks. This was made doubly disappointing as it mirrored what had happened the year before.
“The girls used that as motivation to want to have another opportunity to face Cathedral and earn a win,” said Burchett.
After dispatching Northwest (8-0) in the first round of the Sectional, the Trojans faced Roncalli. They came away victorious when Sergi scored off of a pass from Guess, topping the Rebels 1-0. Ten days after their devastating defeat, they were given another shot at Cathedral. The rematch also went not only to penalty kicks, but on to sudden death penalty kicks. After Cathedral missed the goal on its sixth kick, sophomore Grace Underwood found the back of the net to give the Trojans the title.
“The girls and the entire program always gets very excited and amped up to play our rival Cathedral,” Burchett shared. “We knew going into both matches how good Cathedral was and made a few adjustments heading into sectionals. The girls really wanted it and worked for it. It was the first time Chatard had beaten Cathedral in Girls Soccer in over 15 years.”
If there was any doubt about the strides the team had been making over the course of the season, they were put to rest in the Regional Championship. In late August, the Trojans had lost to Batesville (3-1) at the Plainfield Invite. It would prove to be a different story the next time they met. After playing a scoreless first half, Sergi scored off of an Abby Klineman cross one minute into the second. Guess and Walters added goals of their own helping the Trojans to defeat the Bulldogs and advance to their first Semi-State since 2012.
Their success has come as no surprise to their head coach. “I always knew throughout the season the potential that we had to be great, it was just if everything came together. Once we lost in the City Finals, I could see in the girl’s eyes and demeanor how bad they wanted to have a strong tournament run.” She went on to add, “We are not satisfied with our successes. We keep wanting more!”
The Trojans will head south to Evansville in hopes of punching their ticket to next week’s State Championship game. The game is scheduled for a 3 pm start at Evansville North. They will be facing an Evansville Memorial team with a 17-4 record. TopDrawerSoccer.com has the Tigers listed as the sixth best team in the state regardless of class. They are led by sophomore Isabel Alexander (who has 20 goals and 12 assists on the year) and senior Laurie Hargis (11 goals and 17 assists). All of this said, Chatard has already played some of the best teams in the nation and are up for the challenge.
“Evansville Memorial is an impressive team. They have a history of a great soccer tradition and will be a very challenging team. We are excited and prepared for the contest,” declared Burchett.
Here’s to a Trojan victory, a trip to the finals, and the victorious singing of
C heers to her name,
H ail to victory,
A lways remember
T rojans we will be. Rah! Rah! Rah!
A ctive in game,
R eady to fight,
D efending her colors,
Three cheers for the blue and white-Fight!