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 Carter Hollingsworth ’21 put in the first goal followed by Katina Christensen’s ’21 header for a 2-0 halftime lead. 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 this season,” said Wierzba.
Hollingsworth led the team in scoring with nine goals plus two assists. Next was Olivia O’Reilly with eight goals and 2 assists and Christensen with seven goals and six assists. Sarah Shelburne ’24 had five goals and five assists on the year.
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.