Jessica Splittgerber has a way of making a good impression on the soccer field. The junior midfielder for De Pere tends to do everything well.
She scores goals. She sets teammates up. She provides leadership to a young team.
“She is just an all-around solid player,” Green Bay Notre Dame coach Bob Rickards said. “The times I’ve seen her play, she has been just phenomenal.”
The Redbirds needed that type of play from Splittgerber this season, and she didn’t disappoint. She scored 10 goals, led De Pere with 13 assists and was one of the main reasons the team advanced to the championship game of the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.
She scored a big goal in a 3-0 win over Sheboygan South in a sectional championship and added an assist in a state semifinal win against Kenosha Tremper.
There were just two seniors on the Redbirds — including Splittgerber’s sister, Lauren — so it was up to some of the juniors to lead a team with nine freshmen and four sophomores.
Splittgerber was named one of four team captains before the season.
“I knew this year coming in, I was going to have to be more vocal than I used to be,” said Splittgerber, the Press-Gazette’s girls soccer player of the year. “After watching my sisters do it, they did it so well. I think I’ve just learned how they led the team. There were very few upperclassmen in the offense, and at the beginning, I felt I had to.
“But then everyone started to come together at the end.”
The Redbirds ended the season on a roll, going 10-0-1 in 11 games leading up to state. They fell one victory short of becoming the first area team in any division to win a girls state soccer championship.
“It was amazing,” Splittgerber said. “Going from the first game, we didn’t really know each other all that well. When it got to the end, we just got so much closer.
“It’s what you hope for on every team, is to gain friends and teammates that you will remember for the rest of your life. It was really rewarding.”
It hasn’t been all good news since the trip to state. Splittgerber, who plays for the Allouez Stride in the summer season, recently injured a knee. She intially feared it was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, although she was waiting to take an MRI to learn the extent of the injury.
Even if it’s an ACL, Splittgerber would have time to return for her senior season if all goes well. She also is a member of the Redbirds basketball team.
“I’ve been looking at colleges, but I guess I’m still trying to figure out where I want to go,” Splittgerber said.