With seniors Lexi Grote and Grace Neidhardt leading the way, the Granite City girls’ soccer team is hoping to turn in another outstanding season this spring.
Grote and Neidhardt were the Warriors’ 1-2 scoring punch last season. Grote had 10 goals and 11 assists and earned all-state honors and Neidhardt had 12 goals and six assists and was named to the all-sectional team.
Grote and Neidhardt plan to continue their soccer careers at Southeast Missouri State University and McKendree University, respectively, next year.
“Grace and Lexi are our captains this year and they've been our scoring punch from day one since they've been here,” sixth-year Granite City coach Kenny Prazma said. “It's unfortunate that we have them for one more year, but we expect good things out of Lexi and Grace as always as we have the past three years.”
The Warriors finished with a 10-7-4 mark last season after starting off 0-2-3. They also won their second straight regional championship, beating Edwardsville in penalty kicks in the Class 4A Granite City Regional title game.
Granite City starts its season at 11:15 p.m. on Saturday with a match against Naperville Central at Belleville West.
“This might be one of the strongest years I've seen as far as the quality of the players that every team is going to have,” Prazma said. “We look forward to it and we're going to give everybody the best game we possibly can and we hope to go as far as we possibly can every year. Our goal is to try to make it up to the state tournament like every team is.”
Besides Grote and Neidhardt, the Warriors also return senior Hannah Miller and sophomore Rian Hutson — both all-Southwestern Conference selections a year ago — and senior goalkeeper Neeley Wiehardt.
Granite City coach Emily Ashby is glad that junior Morgan Tanksley is back for another season in the circle for the Warriors.
Tanksley earned all-Southwestern Conference pitcher honors in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
“We’re expecting good things from Mo to just continue where she left off from last year and just keep improving,” Ashby said.
Seniors Haley Crider, Savannah Gibson and Holly Zaring and junior Morgan Fazio are the other returning players from last year’s team that finished 8-21.
“We’ve been working out all summer and all fall,” said Ashby, who is in her third season as coach. “They’re excited to get playing, they’re excited about the season and they’re excited to be part of the team. I think it’s going to be a positive year for everybody.”
The Warriors were scheduled to start their season on March 15 against Marquette Catholic at Gordon Moore Park.
BOYS’ TRACK AND FIELD
Brothers Will and Andrew O’Keefe are the top returning athletes from last year’s Granite City squad.
Last year, the O’Keefe brothers competed on the 3,200-meter relay team that won Southwestern Conference and Class 3A Collinsville Sectional titles and made it to the finals at the state meet in Charleston.
Tom Miller returns for his 17th season as Granite City boys’ track coach.
Granite City has a dual meet at Highland at 4 today.
GIRLS’ TRACK AND FIELD
The Warriors hope to turn in another strong season in the relay events this season.
Senior Niya Wilson and sophomores TyKiaza Jones and Toni Rush are the returning athletes from last year’s 800-meter relay team that placed fourth in the Class 3A state meet, making it the first time in program history a relay team earned all-state honors. They also helped the 4x1 team qualify for state in ‘16.
Senior Robyn Pointer, who competed at state in the 200-meter dash as a sophomore, also will be competing in the relay events.
The Warriors have a dual meet at Highland at 4 today. Miller returns for his second year as the girls’ coach.
A year ago, Austin Bonvincino had an outstanding freshman season, leading the Warriors in hitting at .311 with 16 runs scored and earning all-Southwestern Conference honors.
This spring, Bonvincino leads a strong returning group that includes seniors B.J. Niesporek and Matt Woods and junior Tyler Wheatley.
Granite City, which finished with just four wins last year, starts its ‘17 season at 4 today against Marquette Catholic at Babe Champion Field. Scott Smallie is back for his third season as coach.
The Warriors will celebrate their 10th season this spring with three returning players from last year’s squad that finished 7-12.
Alex Schipkowski is the team’s top returning player. Last year, he was named on the all-Southwestern Conference team along with his older brother, Ben, who graduated in 2016.
Granite City added boys’ volleyball in 2008. Justin Warren has been the program’s head coach since it started 10 seasons ago.
Carter Roustio and Brian Ames are among the top returning players for the Warriors, who will start their season with a road match at Triad on March 28.
Roustio shared all-Southwestern Conference honors with now-graduated Jeremy Erickson in doubles last year.
Raffi Karibian, who wrapped up his first season as Granite City boys’ basketball coach this winter, is back for his 12th season as head boys’ tennis coach.