St. Vincent girls soccer team tops district rival St. Pius to improve to 8-0

Thursday, April 5, 2012
St. Vincent’s Kayla Seabaugh, right, attempts a header against St. Pius’ Caroline Basler and Olivia Basler, back, during the second half Wednesday in Perryville, Mo. A photo gallery can be viewed at semoball.com. (Fred Lynch)

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Three seniors anchor St. Vincent's defense, and they weighed heavily on St. Pius during Wednesday's game.

The senior leadership was on display as the Indians limited St. Pius in a 2-1 victory.

"I think defensively we're very strong," St. Vincent coach Dustin Wengert said. "And our starting goalkeeper is out, so I think that puts a little extra pressure on our defense to step up to the plate. And it's anchored by three seniors -- Mallory Tucker, Kayla Seabaugh and Storm French.

"Those three really do a nice job, and they're really doing a good job breaking in Courtney Brown and Kayla Winkler, who had to play center-mid tonight when Abby Lappe got hurt. And we've got some girls on the bench that are starting to show some time, some people like Morgan Leible. They're going to anchor them and get them in the right spots."

The Indians, who fell 3-2 to Springfield Catholic in the Class 1 state championship game last year, improved to 8-0 this season.

St. Pius goalkeeper Madeline Smith gets to the ball before St. Vincent’s Holly Blandford can get a shot off Wednesday in Perryville, Mo. St. Pius’ Alex Ottoline defends on the play. (Fred Lynch)

It was a battle between district rivals.

The Indians beat St. Pius 1-0 in the district finals last season, avenging a 3-0 loss during the regular season.

"Last year they beat us 3-0 our first game," Indians forward Holly Blandford said. "Then we beat them in districts. And this year we had to pull the strong defense against them because they're amazing."

The sophomore scored the Indians' first goal off a corner kick 11 minutes into the contest.

Storm French served a beautiful ball that Kayla Seabaugh headed to the right side of the net, and Blandford deflected it in.

"You just kind of got to know where you're supposed to be," Blandford said. "[Corners are] like our secret weapon. Kayla is usually pretty good at heading it, and it works for us."

The Indians controlled the majority of the possession in the opening 20 minutes, working the ball around and keeping the Lancers on the run.

"The first 10 minutes were pretty crucial," Blandford said. "We wanted to show them we're here and we're the same team that we've always been. I know we lost a few people, but we're still pretty strong. We have some things to improve on, but we've improved a lot."

Wengert liked the tempo his team established from the start.

"I think we got tired, though," Wengert said. "This was game three of the week and we have another one tomorrow, weather permitting."

The Indians upped their lead to 2-0 minutes before halftime.

Blandford played a ball across the box that sophomore Brooke Monier rifled in the far net.

"It was amazing," Monier said about the goal. "I knew they were going to be tough competitors. Just getting a goal on them was great."

St. Pius played the Indians more evenly in the second half and broke through midway through the period on a shot by standout Haylee Eastridge.

"Haylee Eastridge is known to score," Wengert said. "I think she scored like 45-plus goals last year. She's definitely somebody we watch."

The Indians held off the Lancers down the stretch, taking the first game of the rivalry. The two may meet again with much higher stakes in district play.

"I said two things after the game," Wengert said. "One, we know we can play with these guys. These guys were probably supposed to be the team to beat in the district. And two, we have to pick up the conditioning. I'm happy, don't get me wrong, with the win, but we definitely still have time to improve."

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