Notre Dame girls seek return to Class 1 championship game

Friday, May 28, 2004

When defending Class 1 girls soccer state champion John Burroughs lost Tuesday in the state quarterfinals, the pressure of expectations fell squarely on the shoulders of Notre Dame.

But the Bulldogs either don't see it that way, or they don't mind the pressure. After finishing second in the state last season, Notre Dame's intention since last May was to come home with a state championship this spring. The Bulldogs get their chance this weekend at the Anheuser-Busch Center in Fenton, Mo.

"I wouldn't say there's pressure on us," Notre Dame coach Jeff Worley said. "All four schools should feel like they have a chance to win. Looking at the three other teams, they're probably pretty excited they don't have to figure out a way to stop Jamie Greenwald."

Greenwald, one of the St. Louis area's leading goal scorer this spring for John Burroughs, was held in check Tuesday by Visitation, which boasts just a 10-15-1 record and prevented last year's field from reuniting in tact.

The Vivettes will play O'Hara (25-4) at 8 p.m. tonight. Notre Dame (19-4-2) plays Springfield Catholic (22-5-1) at 6 p.m. The championship is 2 p.m. Saturday, following the third-place game at noon.

Springfield Catholic finished third last year, beating O'Hara in the third-place game after Notre Dame had eliminated O'Hara.

"Springfield Catholic has a forward back from last year who scored a lot of goals," Worley said in reference to Andrea Skahan, who has more than 30 goals this season. "They probably don't use the passing game like we do, but they play hard and have good structure."

Notre Dame has its own weapon up front in Sierra Ellis, the senior who is the school's career leading scorer with more than 60 goals. She has 17 this year, with a team-leading 12 assists. The University of Missouri-St. Louis recruit added one of each to her total in Tuesday's 2-1 quarterfinal win against DuBourg.

"With her size and strength, she shields the ball well," Worley said. "She knows when it's time to go to the goal, but if her teammate has a better opportunity she has the confidence in her teammates to give it up."

Ellis took pride in a pass to the right wing Tuesday that set up Megan Holloway for the Bulldogs' second goal.

"I'm happy about my passing this year," she said. "If I'm the one that scores the goals, great. But I just want to get everyone on the team involved so that somebody scores and we end up winning."

Notre Dame has done a lot of winning lately. They are 8-1-1 since the start of May, having lost only to DuBourg in the final game of the I-55 tournament.

"I think we're playing some of our best soccer right now," Ellis said. "Everyone is stepping it up 100 notches, and everybody wants to win.

"We don't want to go in overconfident. We just want to give our best."

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