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Girls' Soccer Named South Zone Champs

The 2021 St. John’s Girls’ Varsity Soccer team went 6-0 in conference counter games to capture the SPC South Zone title, something they have done for three years in a row, but this season the South Zone title would mean a lot more.

Normally this performance gives the top zone team a first round bye at the SPC championships with North and South Zone teams, but due to Covid-19 the SPC did not host a tournament. The Mavericks won the 2019 SPC title in Fort Worth (the first title for St. John’s) and finished runner-up last season in Dallas.  This year’s team, with five starters from the 2019 title team and nine returning starters from last year, looked to add a second SPC soccer title for the school. Nevertheless, the team would have to fine tune their quest and try to dominate in Greater Houston instead.

“It means the world to these girls to show the skill set we have and how strong we are as a team,” said Head Coach Erin Wierzba, in her second season at the helm.  

The Mavericks started their schedule with a convincing 6-0 win over Concordia Lutheran, but followed it up with a 1-0 non-conference loss to Episcopal. They would not lose again.  Next was a 2-1 win over St. Agnes, the 2020 TAPPS state champion. This victory propelled the Mavericks to a national ranking from Top Drawer Soccer in December.  

After returning to school in January, the team took care of business on the field by defeating Houston Christian and Duchesne.  Next up was Episcopal and a chance to redeem themselves.  The Knights were ranked ahead of St. John’s in the national poll, and St. John’s earlier loss was uncharacteristic given that the Mavericks had not lost a zone counter game in three seasons.  The match was knotted 0-0 until late in the first half when captain Carter Hollingsworth ’21 put in the first goal followed by captain Katina Christensen’s ’21 header for a 2-0 halftime lead.  Captain Olivia O’Reilly '21 found the back of the net for two more in the second half and the defense shut the door on the Knights for a 4-0 statement win. The Mavericks followed up with 4-0 wins over Kinkaid and Awty and ended the season with a 7-1 tally over St. Stephen’s.  

“I’m really thankful that the school allowed us to play,” said Hollingsworth, SJS’ leading scorer. “It’s exciting that we got some games in. We don’t have an SPC tournament this season, but like SPC we do have back to back to back games (in the last week of the season) and want to finish really strong.”

Hollingsworth is very familiar with the SPC tournament having scored the game winner in the 2019 championship game.  She also led the 2020 team with 25 goals and 9 assists.  

“We had a super balanced offense with more shots on goals from more players this season,” said Wierzba.  “This speaks volume about our ability to transition from defense to offense and the ability to generate goal-scoring opportunities from anywhere on the field. Our high-pressure defense was dominant all season long only allowing four goals.”

The defense was led by captain Charlotte Gillard ’21, who also had a goal and an assist on the year. She was flanked by Olivia Pieper ’22, Anna Kalapatapu ’23, and Carys Howell ’23.  Zoe Toy ’21 led the midfield alongside Sarah Shelburne ’24 and Nora Doughty ’23. Jessie Beck ’22 was the starting goalkeeper who finished the year allowing just two goals. 

Leading scorers for the Mavs were Hollingsworth with nine goals two assists, O’Reilly with eight goals and two assists, Katina Christensen with seven goals and six assists, and Shelburne with five goals and five assists. Overall, 11 different players accounted for the goals this season.  Also the Maverick subs were known as “game-changers,” with their role to keep the intensity high on both sides of the ball. 

The Mavericks may have not made it to the SPC tournament this season, but they certainly finished in championship form, back to back to back.

Sam Chambers - Athletic News
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