ST. LOUIS — On Friday, the Nerinx Hall varsity girls soccer team will face St. Teresa’s in the Class 4 State semi-final game.
In 2019, the Markers lost 3-1 to Liberty (Kansas City) in the state championship game and prepared for the 2020 season with more determination than ever, but that season would never come amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many talented seniors lost their final season, but Nerinx Hall head coach Brian Haddock said, luckily, 2019 was a year of roster depth.
“Our seniors now, we had about six or seven that were on that roster,” Haddock said. “And for going two years back that’s pretty good. It’s been great to have our young girls lean on those six or seven kids from this class that was there. And that’s been the only consistency from our roster perspective.”
Haddock said those six or seven seniors carried on the identity of the previous group, overcoming more adversity along the way.
“On the field there’s been lots of common themes that I remember going back two years,” Haddock said. “A strong senior class, you know a good supporting class of a few freshmen and sophomores that contributed, a very good goalkeeper, and the biggest thing I think is the chemistry of the group. In 2019 and in 2021 the chemistry has been very, very similar, and I told the team today at practice, 'That's what makes you special.’”
The Markers were 19-3-2 heading into the 2019 semi-final games, and are now 20-3 heading into the 2021 semi-final game.
“I think it was the consistency of play through the entire year with our girls,” Haddock said.
In 2019, Nerinx traveled to Kansas City for the matchup, but in 2021 St. Teresa’s will travel to St. Louis. It’s a different opponent, and one the Markers haven’t faced many times in the last 20 years.
“We’ve only played them in the program’s history three times,” Haddock said. “Have never beat them. And the last time was in 2002, and I was just out of college so I wasn’t coaching.”
Haddock added that Nerinx typically plays against teams from out of town a few times a year, which would’ve worked to their advantage for preparation. But because of the pandemic, that didn’t happen.
“Without any travel this year, we haven’t been able to go to Kansas City, or really anywhere out of St. Louis, but neither have they,” Haddock said. “So we’re going off of scouting reports, some film, and mainly we’re just worrying about our own team.”
And they won’t have to worry about much. With only three losses this season, Nerinx has found success across the board.
“We’ve proven to win games in different ways,” Haddock said. “Which is kind of important when you’re going against opponents this weekend that you kind of don’t know a whole lot about. We’ve proven to win high scoring games, but we’ve also learned to defend real well, and to win a close 1-0 game like we did last Saturday against Cor Jesu here in town.”
Nerinx Hall will face St. Teresa’s on Friday at Soccer Park at 6:30 p.m.