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“We knew it was going to be a good season for us,” Hediger said. “We brought back our most talented seniors. We brought back all but one starter from last year.”

Add an influx of exceptional freshmen and you have a DuBourg team that is productive all over the field.

Senior striker Kacie Trueman has been an unstoppable force. She’s scored 24 goals and has 10 assists. One of the more prolific goal scorers in her four seasons of varsity action, Trueman was often a one person show. Because of her exceptional skills, she felt a responsibility to max out every minute on the field all season long and carry the entire offensive burden. By the end of the spring, she would be exhausted. This year Trueman has help and lots of it.

“For the first first three years she had so much of a burden on her shoulders because she didn’t have the complimentary players to get that ball to her,” Hediger said. “She was overworked and she was tired. She felt like she had to take the team on her shoulders. This year, we have players that can pick up the slack and can score.”

Among those talented pieces are junior midfielder Tori Sample (11 goals, 8 assists), senior forward Mary Mazzuca (6 goals, 3 assists), senior midfielder Shannon Cahill (3 goals, 9 assists) and freshman midfielder Lexi Bracken (4 goals, 5 assists).

“Kacie is a lot more distributive with the ball,” Hediger said. “She has really matured as a player. It helps she has a nucleus of players that are unselfish.”

Despite its high powered offense, DuBourg’s defense is not to be overlooked. Led by senior center back Lauren Thierry, the defensive unit has jelled as the spring has worn on. Sophomore Angela Colombo and freshman Liz Campbell have been spectacular and when they need a breather Hediger can look down his bench at a cavalcade of Cavaliers ready and able to step in when called upon. The depth of DuBourg’s roster is an asset this season. Last spring a nasty string of concussions left the reserves devastated.

“Last year we had eight concussions. Five were on the varsity, three were on the JV,” Hediger said. “We haven’t had any of those kinds of issues this year which has allowed us to create a chemistry that is necessary moving forward especially against our next three opponents.”

Ah yes, the next three tests. St. Dominic, Windsor and St. Pius X will all test DuBourg in different ways. Mentally and physically, the Cavaliers haven’t had a stretch like this so far this season. But tough games are not uncommon for the returning players. Until this spring, DuBourg competed in the large division of the Archdiocesan Athletic Association, which meant home and home matches with St. Dominic, Duchesne and Borgia. This year, their first in the small division, the Cavaliers are only slated to see St. Dominic.

“I like scheduling up to play the best caliber of teams we can,” Hediger said. “I believe it does get us prepared for districts and beyond that.”

Beyond is where the Cavaliers would like to end up. After losing in the sectional round the past two seasons to perennial final four contender Rosati Kain, DuBourg’s returners put in a strong offseason to get past their arch rival and make an extended postseason run. Hediger said the players work ethic and the knowledge of assistant coaches Tim Champman and Steve Bettlach Jr. gives this season a real chance to be a special one.

But first, they have to break out that measuring stick.

“We know it’s going to be difficult, we know it’s going to be challenging, but you have to have where the bar is going to be set,” Hediger said. “We know we have our work cut out for us. We have to see where we’re at. Whether we win or lose we’ll learn a lot about our team.”

TRIAD GETS ITS SIGNATURE WIN

Matt Bettlach can be a wet blanket. He can let the air out of the balloons. He can be a party pooper.

Nobody said being a coach was all fun and games.

Bettlach, the Triad girls soccer coach, was extremely happy his team scratched out a 1 0 win over Edwardsville last week. But there was part of him that wasn’t satisfied.

“The girls were excited about beating Edwardsville,” Bettlach said. “I kind of rained on their parade a little bit because I wasn’t happy with some of our play.”

That being said, Triad (8 3) still found a way to beat a team it hasn’t in at least four years. The Knights have found their stride after some early season growing pains. They lost three of their first five including one goal losses to O’Fallon and Granite City. Since then, Triad got into the meat of its Mississippi Valley Conference schedule and caught fire. Winners of six consecutive matches, the Knights are doing good work from the front to the back of the pitch.

Junior midfielder Allison Wendt and sophomore Meaghan Smith have provided the offensive punch. Wendt has nine goals and four assists and Smith has eight goals and two assists.

“Both of those girls had big numbers last year and they carried over,” Bettlach said. “They have played well against the big schools.”

The defensive unit has been excellent, too. Bettlach switched up his formation a bit and it has paid off. He doesn’t like to use a sweeper, but sophomore Sam Bassler has been smashing in the role. Junior Makayla Hewitt and freshman Kalie Gibbs have made opposing attackers miserable as marking backs.

“Both of those girls have done a really good job of taking the opposition’s forwards out of the game and not allowing them to get comfortable,” Bettlach said.

The Knights rely on not one but two excellent goalkeepers. Skye Clarke and Gabby Kayser alternate halves and both have been strong.

“Both are technically sound goalkeepers,” Bettlach said. “I’m lucky to have both of them.”

Triad’s win over Edwardsville was the big moment of the season thus far, but there are plenty of stiff tests ahead. There are matches at Collinsville, at Belleville West in early May. Next week, the Knights will play Lafayette at Summit as they take part in Summit’s Meghan Herndon Memorial Tournament. The field also includes Pattonville, Eureka, Francis Howell, Fort Zumwalt South and Fort Zumwalt East.

“I like to play the Missouri competition just for the fact it prepares you for playoffs,” Bettlach said. “If you go past regionals and get to sectionals you start to play teams that are very similar to big schools in Illinois and Missouri.”

The closing stretch to the season will give Triad a full picture of who it is and what it’s capable of. It’s chasing the Mississippi Valley Conference title, but there’s another match with Waterloo on the docket that could decide who claims the league crown.

“The next couple of weeks are going to be interesting to see how we do,” Bettlach said. “I don’t want to count out Waterloo, either. They’re very talented and young. It’s not easy.”
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