Prep soccer: Sophomores spark Catholic's success
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last season, the Charleston Catholic girls soccer team shocked the state by reaching the State Tournament with five starting freshmen.
This year, the Irish aren't sneaking up on anyone.
Catholic, ranked first in Class AA/A, continued its dominant start, remaining unbeaten by earning a 6-1 victory over Capital at the Trace Fork Fields Monday evening.
"I've been real happy with the way we have been playing," said Catholic Coach Amy Mullen, of her 11-0 Irish. "I knew Capital would come out ready to play this game. We all know each other and it's a big rivalry."
Mullen believes the surprise appearance in the state tournament last season with so many freshmen has been instrumental in the success so far this year for the Irish.
"We were very excited and glad to get to the state tournament, especially being so young after coming off a team that had struggled the year before and couldn't even get out of our sectional," Mullen said.
Despite much higher expectations this season, Catholic has lived up to the hype, outscoring opponents 77-5. Seven of the 11 wins have come by shutout, and the closest margin the Irish have won by has been four goals.
Catholic has been playing stiff combination, as well. The Irish have beaten Capital, and three other Class AAA schools (Greenbrier East, St. Albans, and Parkersburg South) by a combined 22-3.
Despite the impressive showing, Mullen isn't taking anything or game granted.
"We do not think we are great," Mullen said. "None of the girls do. We don't want to get overconfident. Especially with so many young players, you just never know game to game. There are good teams out there and you know every team will come prepared anytime they play us."
What's more is that Irish opponents will have to deal with six starters who are sophomores - Caroline Dundervill, Payton Mullen, Sophie Bumgarner, Jada Bohn, Amanda George, and Peyton Keener.
The top three goal scorers on the Irish team are 10th graders in Dundervill, Mullen, and Keener. The second-year class was at its best against the Cougars as well.
Dundervill, who leads the area in goals scored, netted two against Capital, as did Bumgarner. Mullen and Bohn added the other goals with one each. Keener had two assists to help out the Irish offensive attack.
With so many offensive weapons, Dundervill is happy to have such good balance.
"It's good because you don't necessarily count on one person to score all the time," Dundervill said. "You can depend on several good players. It helps a lot to know I always have them to pass to. It's been really fun."
Dundervill is the younger sister of Kathryn, who also enjoyed success for Catholic, playing a significant role in the Irish's consecutive state titles in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Being just a sophomore with three seasons left in her career at Catholic, Dundervill would like nothing more than to win a state title herself, and possibly even match her older sister.
"She won three state titles, and I definitely want to match her," Dundervill said smiling. "I'm really excited for this year, and the future. We really want it. My sister has always been so supportive. She did really well and I look up to her as my role model."
To go along with the talented sophomores scoring most of the goals for Catholic, the Irish are loaded on the back end defensively with all upperclassmen, forming a solid mix.
Catholic has five starting seniors that play the midfield or primarily defensive positions in Anna Whelan, Brianna Ross, Sarah Joseck, Quincy McKown, and goalkeeper Annie Crockett, who has been responsible for the seven shutouts.
"We have a fantastic defense with all upperclassmen," Mullen said. "They have done a fantastic job and are all seniors. They are stepping up and showing their leadership on and off the field. Having the dynamic of the experience and a strong sophomore class, everything is clicking."