Nixa and Catholic both ended their seasons as fourth-place finishers at state, with the Lady Eagles making their longest postseason run in history.
For Catholic, a Class 1 state trip is commonplace, as the Lady Irish advanced for the fifth straight year.
The teams combined for five members of the All-Ozarks soccer team, combining with Ozark Conference champion Glendale to occupy two-thirds of the region’s first team, which was chosen by the News-Leader sports staff with input from area soccer coaches.
— Matt Schoch, email@example.com
The junior, who is committed to Southeast Missouri State, continued to direct things in the back for coach Jeff Rogers’ team, making the All-Ozarks first team for the second straight year.
“Ever since her freshman year, she’s just been consistent and has kept us in games,” Rogers said. “Teams are going to have to find quality goals to beat us. It’s just her consistency that keeps us competitive.”
Lierz also won Ozark Conference Player of the Year for the undefeated conference champions. She had 13 shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.72 for the Lady Falcons.
The senior was adept at moving up with the play, closing her solid career as No. 21 on the school’s career scoring list.
This year, she had two goals and five assists for the Lady Eagles, who qualified for state for the first time.
“She is a hard-nosed and skilled defender who could move up into the attack,” Nixa coach Evan Palmer said. “She was our wild card going forward.”
Skrade stepped into a leadership position in just her sophomore year for the Lady Irish, who have been hit hard by graduation losses the last couple seasons.
The center back had a goal and six assists but was mostly tasked with keeping things orderly in the Catholic backfield. Skrade helped lead Catholic to its 11thstraight district title, the program’s 12th in 16 years.
“She’s an extremely smart player,” Catholic coach Ben Timson said. “She’s technically very good and almost never makes a bad decision. She’s able to stop opponents’ attacks and starts our attacks.”
SARAH KATE SPROUSE
Another defender adept at moving up to attack, Sprouse had three goals and two assists for the Lady Falcons, and was named to the All-Southwest Region team.
“I look back at all the players that she’s had to mark since her freshman year, all of the players went on to play high-level Division I and college soccer,” Rogers said. “She’s probably had one of those careers where she’s been up against the best and she’s consistently done well.”
She was the team’s Defensive Player of the Year and helped the Lady Falcons to a 19-7 record and district runner-up finish.
The dynamic athlete already is 14th all-time on the school’s scoring list after two seasons at Nixa.
“Alyson is such an incredible athlete that has great technical ability as well,” Palmer said. “She can make up so much ground that teams don’t have anyone who can keep up with her.”
Galler had 11 goals and 10 assists this season, giving her 23 goals and 13 assists halfway through her young career.
Another second-time selection to the team, Holtmann upheld her reputation as one of the region’s best with a 26-goal, 13-assist effort this season, including nine game-winning goals.
“She was our team leader this year on and off the field,” Timson said. “She’s a very dynamic goal-scorer for us, and had game-winning goals in all four of our playoff wins.”
Holtmann was selected as the Class 1 Co-Player of the Year statewide for the Lady Irish, who went 14-12-1 this year, extending their run of five straight Class 1 final four appearances.
The University of Kansas commit scored seven goals and had five assists for the Lady Chiefs, who missed the midfielder’s presence during a late-season stretch when she was out with an ankle injury.
When she returned, Melugin led Kickapoo to the first girls soccer district title of coach Phil Hodge’s career.
“Miriam’s work ethic day in and day out and her high expectations that she has set for herself and her teammates is unparalleled,” Hodge said. “These expectations and work ethic are what helped push our team to our first district championship in six years.”
After spending a year playing defense, Opfer patrolled the middle of the field for the Lady Falcons, leading the team with 22 goals and 13 assists.
“She’s a workhorse and was our engine this year,” Rogers said. “She’s one of those players where you could put her anywhere, but we put her in the middle and let her go.”
The center midfielder helped deal with crucial graduation losses over the last couple years, filling in offensively for All-Ozarks players such as Emily Cline, Molly Brewer, and her sister, Alix Opfer.
Davidson graduates as the most prolific scorer in Ozark history, with a single-season mark of 32 goals and 17 assists, making the All-Ozarks team for a second straight season.
“Even when she was a little kid, she had a knack for the goal,” said her father and coach, Tom Davidson. “You can talk to 1,000 coaches, and if they tell you they can create goal-scorers, they are lying to you. She just figured out a way.”
Davidson led Ozark to a 15-8 record, and was a valedictorian of the senior class for the Lady Tigers.
The forward is an All-Ozarks first-team selection for the first time after leading Nixa to a 21-5 season.
“Payton is so tough to defend, if teams try to mark her out of the game, she will find her teammates,” Palmer said. “She loves to score but loves to dish it off as well.”
Her 21-goal, 20-assist season gives her 54 goals and 36 assists for her career, putting her at the No. 2 spot in all-time scoring for Nixa.
Another second-time pick for the first-team, Hawkins scored 35 goals and had 19 assists for Central, becoming the school’s all-time leading girls’ scorer.
“She’s very encouraging to the kids who may not have the skill level she does,” Central coach Chris Welch said. “She’s been one of these kids I’ve pushed to make our program better and it means a lot to her.”
Hawkins, who helped the Lady Bulldogs to a district title last season, helped lead Central to a runner-up finish in a Class 3 district this year, going 11-7.
Marcotte scored the game-winner in 14 of Republic’s 18 wins this season, finishing with 40 goals and seven assists to make her second straight All-Ozarks first team.
“Sara Marcotte is the caliber of player that means you always have a chance to win,” Republic coach Mike Hines said. “In over 20 years of coaching, Sara’s intensity and will to compete in every play is unrivaled. I am thankful she will be at Republic for one more year.”
Republic earned its second straight district title in just its third year as a program.