It seemed like a perilous beginning to the season for the Festus Girls Varsity Soccer team, who looked to still be finding their footing after the first couple of weeks. However, the team turned it around and played solid soccer all week long, winning two more games to build a four game winning streak before succumbing to St. Pius on Friday.
Getting off to a fast start, the first game was on Monday, April 4th against Affton. Summer Sansoucie blasted a ball into the upper corner to put the Tigers up one early in the game. Jersey Moonier added a second goal to keep the momentum rolling, but the Tigers conceded a goal to the Cougars late in the half. In the second, the Cougars took a red card on a hard foul of Emily Holt. She took her revenge quickly therafter, scoring the final goal of the game off a pass from Caitlynn Johnson, giving Festus the 3-1 win.
Unfortunately, during the game, Sansoucie was tackled and went off with an injury, allowing a younger player, Samantha Helbrueck, to step up. According to Head Coach Caleb Zustiak, “Helbrueck did an amazing job taking over the defensive midfield position. There was also some strong work from Riley Vogel, Riley Zustiak, Delaney Schmitt, Alayna Erxleben, Maddie McHawes, Emma Stevens, Karleigh Bayer and Crystal Nguyen to keep the door closed on the opposing team the rest of the match.”
After a rest day, the Tigers laced up their boots again in a game against Sullivan. The Tigers were beaten by Sullivan earlier in the season in a tournament 3-2, but on this evening, the Tigers managed to ground the Eagles with strong defensive play. Holt cracked two big goals with assists by Shyanne Hofmeister and Johnson respectively. This would be all the Tigers needed to get the 2-0 win and extend the winning streak to four.
Coach Zustiak was complimentary of his back field and noted, “A strong defense anchored by Seniors Erxleben, Helbrueck and McHawes kept Sullivan quiet most of the match with nice contributions by underclassmen Vogel, Zustiak, Schmitt and Stevens.”
On Friday, April 8t, the Tigers, however, ran into an offensive buzzsaw in St. Pius. Last season, the Tigers were defeated by the Lancers 8-0, and looked completely outmatched. This time, Festus played much tougher and even had a some offensive opportunities that just didn’t find the back of the net. The Lancers managed to score three times, dealing a 3-0 loss to the Tigers, ending their win streak.
Again, Zustiak saw some positive play, and noted one particularly impressive performance. He said, “Our stand-out performer this match was Helbrueck. Samantha didn’t play last season but returned as a Senior and shut down many attacks by Pius through the middle. She played almost the entire game and her tenacity and intensity were an important part of the team’s improvement over last season’s scoreline.”
With plenty more soccer to be played, the Tigers seemingly have found their stride and are starting to click. The hard work is beginning to pay off and with a little luck, Festus can keep improving and continue to win.