Last year’s Class 3A Edwardsville Regional championship game in girls’ soccer was something Shelby Winn always will remember.
“Every day, I think about it,” the Granite City senior said. “It was my best experience I’ve had so far.”
Winn helped the Warriors capture their seventh regional title in program history and their first since 2011 after scoring the game-winning goal with 2.6 seconds left in the first overtime period of the regional title match against the Quincy Blue Devils. Granite City won 2-1 to advance to sectionals.
“It was monumental,” Winn said.
This year, Winn hopes her team turns in a monumental season in her final year with Granite City. She’s part of a senior class that includes Emily Smith, Haley Davis, Isa Scaturro, Paige Stanley and Ciara Tieman.
“It probably would mean the world to me because every single senior we have this year I played with since I was super little,” said Winn, a midfielder. “Since I won’t play with them again after this year, it would be perfect.”
Granite City took a 3-2-3 record into Tuesday’s match with Belleville West. The Warriors finished 3-0 in the St. Louis Soccer Classic over the weekend at St. Joseph’s Academy.
Granite City beat Fort Zumwalt East 2-1 for its first win of the season on Friday. The next day, the Warriors beat Lafayette 1-0 and Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.) 2-1 to climb over the .500 mark.
All six seniors have played with the Granite City program since they were freshmen.
“They bring some leadership to the team,” Granite City coach Kenny Prazma said.
The seniors are part of a Granite City team that lost 12 players to graduation but returned two of its top scorers from last year — juniors Grace Neidhardt and Lexi Grote.
“I think we’re going to have a really good season,” Davis said. “If we keep up the work we’re doing and keep going on and keep working, I think we’ll have a good chance of making it to the playoffs.”
Stanley, one of the team’s starting defenders, is out for the season with a torn ACL she suffered in the Warriors’ contest against Triad on March 23 at GCS Ballpark.
Smith, a midfielder, shares team captain duties with Grote. Davis shares goalkeeping duties with junior Neeley Wiehardt and sophomore Viktoria Johnson. Scaturro, who was voted GCHS’s Homecoming Queen in October, is one of the forwards and Tieman plays in the midfield.
Winn finished with a career-high three goals last year. Besides Quincy in the regional championship match, Winn also scored goals against Jackson (Mo.) and West Des Moines Valley.
In the final seconds of the first overtime period against Quincy, Winn was standing in the scorer’s box area while Ashleigh Briggs, who now plays soccer at McKendree, was rushing to make a corner kick. Winn received Briggs’ corner-kick pass and kicked the ball past Quincy goalkeeper Anna Stock.
“Time was running down and everyone was screaming and there was a lot of noise going on,” Winn said. “I was like, ‘This is it. It’s now or never. You have to do it.’ So I just went for it and it worked in my favor.”
Winn helped the Warriors finish with their second straight winning season. Granite City finished 11-9-2 after going 7-1-1 in its final nine matches.
Next year, Winn will be playing for another winning soccer program — Culver-Stockton College. The Granite City senior announced she would play for the NAIA school in Canton, Mo., in December. The Wildcats finished with a winning season the last two years.
Winn said she’s happy she will continue a soccer career.
“I started it when I was little and over the years it has grown to be a passion of mine and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t play it,” said Winn, an honor student with a 5.0 grade point average. “I can’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t have the game in my life because it’s such a huge role for me. It’s like an escape. When I’m on the field, nothing else matters.”
Winn said she’s going to miss playing with her senior teammates when the season comes to an end in May.
“It’s really bittersweet because going off to college is definitely going to be an exciting experience for me, but I love playing with the girls here and I’ve been playing with them for so long,” Winn said.
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