Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
Roxana sophomore Brynn Huddelston goes after a ball March 29 during the EA-WR Tournament at Wood River Soccer Park while teammates Emma Lucas (16) and Hannah Mormino (4) look on. The Shells have started on a torrid pace, including winning the EA-WR Tournament for a second year in a row.
Roxana coach Lori Yates says she’ll be sad when seniors Alyssa Copeland, Katie Herndon, Kara Meyer and Hannah Mormino have their high school soccer careers come to an end next month.
“They played varsity all four years, so they’re hard to replace always,” Yates said.
The four seniors have helped Roxana turn into a winning program. Since they joined the program as freshmen, the Shells are 32-21-2 and never finished with a losing season. So far this year, Roxana is off to a 6-1-1 start after winning the East Alton-Wood River Tournament last week and besting Father McGivney 3-0 on Tuesday. The Shells also played rival Marquette Catholic on Thursday in Alton after press time.
“It’s been an interesting four years,” Herndon said. “We’ve gone through our hard times, but in the end, this team always seems to come together as one and we grow with each other. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. These four years have probably been some of the best times of my life. I know that they say college is one of the best times, but college will be a whole different time. I’ll always remember this team and these girls because they mean more than the world to me.”
Copeland, Herndon, Meyer and Mormino are the team’s captains. They’re also part of a strong defensive unit that has posted three shutouts and has given up eight goals.
“They’ve been very valuable,” Yates said.
The four seniors have combined for two goals and six assists. Copeland and Meyer each scored a goal against Jersey in the EA-WR Tournament.
When they were freshmen, Copeland, Herndon, Meyer and Mormino helped the Shells finish 6-5-1 after the team was 6-10-1 the year before. Roxana was 9-8 in 2014 and 12-7 in 2015.
The Shells began their 2016 season March 14 with a 5-0 win over Metro-East Lutheran. Last week, they beat Jersey, crosstown rival East Alton-Wood River and Mascoutah to win the EA-WR Tournament for the second year in a row. Litchfield handed Roxana its only loss March 21.
“It’s going to be a strong program,” Yates said. “We have one freshman right now playing on the varsity, but I have 10 other freshmen on the JV team, so we’re loaded with sophomores and freshmen. We’re going to have some good upcoming years.”
Herndon said she’s pleased with the way her team is performing this season.
“Honestly, I feel like at first people had doubted us the way the season would go because we lost a lot of players from last year,” she said. “But this year, we feel like we proved a lot of people wrong. I’m very proud of these girls and I can’t wait to finish the season off with them.”
The seniors are part of a Roxana roster that has 12 sophomores and one freshman.
Sophomore Emma Lucas is the team’s leader in goals with eight and freshman Abby Kurth has five goals.
Mormino admitted it’s an enjoyable bunch.
“It’s awesome to play with this squad,” Mormino said. “They always make me laugh. If you’re in a bad mood, come hang out with this team. I promise that they will make you so much happier. It’s a great program. Our team has a lot of potential. We grow every year. I’m just excited and I love this team. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Herndon said she believes her team will continue to be successful when she and her three senior teammates graduate in May.
“After us four seniors leave, it’s going to be tough on defense, but I think that with the way they work now, they’re only going to be able to improve,” she said. “I see nothing but a bright future for all of the girls.”
Roxana is back at it with a big week of South Central Conference play next week. The Shells travel to Gillespie on Monday, head to Pana on Tuesday and trek to Carlinville on Thursday. They are 1-1 in SCC action.
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