WESTON – When Gabi Kitchell and her D.C. Everest teammates glanced at their 2015 soccer schedule, they thought their coach was crazy.
Evergreens coach Lucas Kollross scheduled five teams with state tournament experience during the first month of the season. Kettle Moraine, Divine Savior Holy Angels and Eau Claire Memorial were among the early season tests for the girls.
“We wondered what he was thinking, and we were kind of mad at him,” senior Kitchell said. “Those are good teams, and to play them right away, we were a little worried about picking up too many losses.”
The Evergreens went 2-1-2 against those teams, which turned out to be the start of a historic season for Everest. Those game helped battle-test the Evergreens as they won a whopping 22 straight games and won the WIAA Division 1 state title by beating Kettle Moraine 1-0 in overtime.
For her part in the Evergreens’ championship season, Kitchell has been named the Gannett Central Wisconsin Media player of the year.
“Our schedule helped us be prepared for the playoffs,” Kitchell said. “Because of those early games, we were playing solid soccer in the end.”
Kitchell, a defender for the Evergreens, was a big part of why Everest yielded just 18 goals against state-caliber competition in 30 games. She was also named the Wisconsin Valley Conference player of the year and on the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association First 11 team.
If the early season test wasn’t enough, the Evergreens used the Waukesha West tournament as a postseason tuneup. Everest played and beat both West and Catholic Memorial.
“We felt pretty good about our team after those early games, but when we won both games at Waukesha West, we believed that we could beat anyone,” she said.
And after a 2-1 loss to DSHA early in the season, the Evergreens did in fact beat everyone. They went 12-0-0 in the WVC, the first time they went undefeated and untied in the league.
The state title, the first in the sport for the school, came off a runner-up finish in 2014. Coming up just short last year helped fuel the girls drive to the title.
“We were not satisfied with the silver,” Kitchell said. “We only lost a few players from last year, so we thought we could make another run.
“A lot of us played club soccer during the offseason, which gave us more time playing together and it helped with our chemistry,” she said. “I’m a big communicator in the back. Playing together in the offseason was a big part of how we played together this spring.”
Kitchell ended her senior year about as good any athlete could script it. In addition to the state title in soccer, she placed third at the state tennis tournament in D1 singles last fall.
“It’s crazy to get to state in two sports my senior year,” Kitchell said. “I won my last match and game of my high school career. That’s pretty cool.”
Mark Massoglia: 715-423-7200, ext. 6736; email@example.com; on Twitter @markmazzy.
All-Area First 11
Defenders: Gabi Kitchell, D.C. Everest, sr; Alexa Sheehan, Wausau West, soph; Dorene Sanchez, D.C. Everest, soph.
Forwards: Abby Bohanski, SPASH, sr; Justice Menge, SPASH, jr; Jordyn Ostrowski, D.C. Everest, sr.
Midfielders: Gracie Wendels, Assumption, soph; McKenna Gilmore, D.C. Everest, soph; Jaimie Vanderhei, Wisconsin Rapids, sr; Allyson Dehnel, Wausau East, jr.
Goalkeeper: Jessy Wiskofske, Wausau West, sr.
Best of the Rest
Devin Youles, Mosinee, jr; Kate Gulan, Mosinee, jr; Ciera Danan, Medford, sr; Jenny Hamilton, Newman Catholic, soph; Julie Urban, Marshfield, jr; Elise Thuot, D.C. Everest, sr; Jasmine Hunn, Assumption, junior; Mackenzie Corallo, D.C. Everest, sr; Cassy Plachetka, Merrill, jr; Chani Pulchinski, Wisconsin Rapids, soph; Jamie Clemens, SPASH, sr; Natalie Lucht, Wausau West, fr; Ellicia Myles, Wausau East, jr; Katie Kiiskila, Wisconsin Rapids, jr; Maddie Mittelsteadt, D.C. Everest, sr.