Notre Dame Prep girls soccer faces challenges head-on

Notre Dame Prep girls soccer faces challenges head-on

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Notre Dame Prep girls soccer faces challenges head-on

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Some teams like to ease into the season, playing a steady dose of less-than-stellar opponents as a way to build early confidence. Others prefer to jump right in, hoping to play against the best in order to immediately assess strengths and weaknesses.

Count Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep girls soccer among the latter group. Playing in the early-season Horizon Tournament of Champions, Notre Dame faced stiff competition with little room for error.

But even with a first-year coach in Tom White at the helm, it fought its way to the tournament title, beating Division I contender Anthem Boulder Creek and four-time Division II defending champion Tucson Catalina Foothills along the way.

“You come across some teams, and just saying their name around certain areas gets a reaction,” White said. “These girls, it seems like they welcome that type of challenge, and they want to play against the best. Playing against those teams, the girls got the idea that not only can they play with them, they can beat them. It’s a confidence booster going forward.”

Notre Dame has come agonizingly close to a state championship in recent years. It lost to Catalina Foothills in the final minutes of the semifinals last season, and fell 1-0 to Flagstaff in the title game two years before that.

With those experiences still eating at them, Notre Dame’s older players are determined to get back to the playoffs and prove they are capable of winning it all.

“Being seniors, we truly know what it takes,” midfielder/forward Rachael Schaeffer said. “It’s a great feeling to be a senior and know that our team is as good as it is.”

Notre Dame’s younger players are contributing as well, as sophomore midfielder Jeanne Mongan and freshman forward Taylor Culver are tied for the team lead in goals with four.

That all-around success, coupled with the hunger derived from coming home empty-handed after getting so close, is driving Notre Dame as it attempts to build off its 7-1 record to open the season.

“We want this so bad,” senior forward Catherine Groves said. “I don’t think there’s any team that’s ever wanted it as bad as us.

“And I think that’s really what’s going to get us there in the end. We want it more than anyone out there.”

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