Photo by Bill Roseberry
Marquette senior Kate Sanfilippo ties up with Rochester junior Baylee Smith in a physical Class 1A Springfield Super Sectional on Tuesday. The Explorers lost the game 2-1 to conclude a stellar season at 15-6-3.
The Marquette Catholic girls’ soccer program is no stranger to success.
This season the Explorers compiled a mark of 15-6-3 after bowing to Rochester 2-1 in the Class 1A Springfield Super Sectional on Tuesday. It capped a season where Marquette nabbed its 11th straight regional title and third straight sectional crown.
The Explorers were vying for their first trip to state since 2013 on Tuesday when they ran into the Rockets, losing to them in the supers for the second consecutive season. Marquette lost to Rochester in the final seconds of double overtime by the score of 2-1 in 2014.
Head coach Steve Mitchell was disappointed to see the season come to an end in the fashion it did. The Rockets were able to score in the second minute on Tuesday. Starting slow was something that plagued the Explorers throughout 2015.
With only losing three seniors from the program, Mitchell believes if the Marquette players learn from their mistakes they can be knocking on the door to the state tournament again next year.
“If they do what we ask them to do as coaches and they want it, they’ll be right back here,” Mitchell said. “If they don’t listen and they think we’ll win because we’re Alton Marquette, it’s not going to happen. You’ve got to keep the foot on the gas pedal; you can’t let off. We just came up here and we weren’t ready to play the first 20 minutes and that came back to haunt us.”
The Explorers lose senior starters Kali Segieda on defense and forward/midfielder Kate Sanfilippo as well as forward Nicole Grimaud off the bench.
Segieda had one goal and one assist, while Grimaud scored three goals on the season, but it’s Sanfilippo who will be missed the most. Sanfilippo was Marquette’s leading scorer with 11 goals and 18 assists for 40 points, all team highs. She is signed to play for Northern Illinois next season and Mitchell knows it will be a monumental task to replace her.
“When you lose a player like that you might as well lose two players; she’s that good,” Mitchell said. “But every school goes through it. You lose your guns and we lost seven last year and we’re right back here. It can be done, we just have to work on it. We’ve got to fill in some gaps and hope the kids remember this (loss to Rochester).”
Filling Sanfilippo’s shoes definitely won’t be easy, but there is plenty of talent left on the Explorers’ roster. Juniors Adriana Schindler (10 goals, 4 assists, 20 points) and Lauren Schmickley (7 goals, 3 assists, 17 points) along with sophomore Annabelle Copeland (7 goals, 3 assists, 17 points) and freshman Amanda Murray (5 goals, 10 points) should take most of the scoring load.
Other key contributors this season who should continue that trend will be players like junior midfielder Bailey Hartrich (3 goals, 7 assists, 13 points), sophomore defenseman Ketoura Ngwa (1 goal, 2 points) and freshman defenseman Rebekah Johnes (3 assists, 3 points).
A pair of freshmen goalies should progress, too. Lauren Fischer and Sonorah Eldred each saw a good amount of time in goal. Fischer had an .893 save percentage and played the majority of the minutes, but Eldred posted a .920 save percentage in relief of her freshman teammate.
“It depends on who we get to fill in as freshmen and we’ve got a lot of different pieces to the puzzle,” Mitchell said of replacing Sanfilippo. “I’ve got a lot of good players, it’s just that a lot of them are small and haven’t played up at the varsity level.”
Rochester was a big and physical team on Tuesday. That physical style is something Mitchell hopes will come with age for the Explorers. It will help come playoff time.
“We’ve got a young team and I’m excited about next year,” Mitchell said. “But it’s going to take awhile to get over this. Last year I waited eight or nine months to get ready for this and here I go again. Three years in a row super sectional and I’ve only been to state once. It hurts, but it is what it is.”
Signature wins for the Explorers in 2015 came against Normal University, Providence Catholic, Columbia and two each over Alton, Mater Dei and Gibault. They tied Edwardsville, O’Fallon and Granite City in impressive fashion also.
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