Girls soccer: Mullen, Catholic ready for rematch with Indians
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Catholic girls soccer Coach Amy Mullen stepped into a situation that saw the Irish lose Player of the Year Emily Blake to graduation.
Then, she had to rely on five freshman starters.
Mullen knew she had a lot of talent on the Irish team, but even the first-year coach couldn't have imagined Catholic would be in its current position - two wins from a state championship.
Catholic (15-5-2) opens the State Tournament at 4:30 p.m. today in the semifinals against Bridgeport (18-4-1) at the Trace Fork Complex in South Charleston.
"No, I didn't," said Mullen, when asked if she thought she had inherited a State Tournament team when she first took over the Irish program. "I thought it would be a few years. We only have two seniors, and start five freshmen."
The two teams played Sept. 8 and had to settle for a 1-1 tie.
"We scored first and was holding on when they tied it in the second half," Mullen said. "At the end of the game, we were glad to be able to come out with a tie. They are a good team, and if we are prepared to play 80 minutes, we should be able to give them a good game."
The top three goal-scorers on the Irish team are freshmen, led by Caroline Dundervill with 18. Peyton Mullen is second on the team in goals with 14, with Peyton Keener has 13.
Despite having a team with nine freshmen, the Irish have gotten major contributions from the few upperclassmen they have.
"We are really excited to be at the State Tournament," Mullen said. "They have all come ready to play right from the start. We have a solid junior class, and I don't think they get the recognition they should."
Senior Jenny Borman was an honorable mention All-State player last season, Junior Anna Whelan is a returning second team All-State selection, and Mullen has also been very impressed with junior goalkeeper Annie Crockett.
"Annie has really stepped up when has needed to," Mullen said. "She saved a one-on-one against Lydia Murray (the all-time leading goal scorer in the Kanawha Valley) and stopped several penalty kicks in the regional final. She has done a great job."
Bridgeport dropped down in classification (Class AAA to AA) this year and lost its three best players to graduation from last year, including first team All-State player Nicole Marton. Senior forward Alexis Alastanos and junior defender Alexis Lindsey lead the Indians.
The other Class AA/A semifinal pits Fairmont Senior (14-8-1) against PikeView (16-4-2), 30 minutes after the Catholic-Bridgeport game, also at the Trace Fork Complex.
The matchup features two of the better midfielders in the state in Fairmont Senior senior Ivey Nucilli.
PikeView counters with the Class AA/A midfielder of the Year last season, senior Laura Hill.