Unbeaten and Unfazed: A Beginners Guide to a Winning Soccer Program

The crusaders hold their own on home turf winning 10-0 over Borgia.

Max Williams

The crusaders hold their own on home turf winning 10-0 over Borgia.

Max Williams, Staff writer

As of late, the Crusader varsity girls soccer team has been crushing the competition during their undefeated season, slotting home perfect finish after perfect finish, and leaving teams exhausted after their relentless style of play.

As of April 15, the Crusaders are now an astonishing 9-0 in the season, after defeating the Borgia Knights at the Crusader stadium. The weather conditions were perfect, and the varsity team was obviously hungry for goals, considering they bagged 10 all while keeping a clean sheet against one of the teams that St. Dominic faces the most across all sports. However, this is only a continuation of the phenomenal form that Dominic fans have been treated to all season long

Thankfully, I was able to communicate with Coach Greg Koeller to get an idea of the key attributes of players who have really made the team stand out to him so far this season.

“Every team has its own unique dynamic. The 2021 team is filled to the brim in technical ability, game insight and intelligence, soccer personality and speed of action and reaction. I think the depth on this roster and in the program is one of the best ever in our 36 year history,” Coach Koeller said.

It’s the depth that Mr. Koeller speaks of that truly defines this particular varsity roster, because it allows for players to be subbed in and out with no lack of talent or ability coming as a direct result of it. It doesn’t matter who is on the pitch because just about any combination of players is going to bring not only a complete skill set of unique talents, but also a superb amount of talent that can rival virtually any team in the nation. This is why even Coach Koeller describes them as “one of the best ever.”

However, maintaining this level of play takes more effort than meets the eye. Over the course of a long season, the girls must be both physically and mentally ready for each game, no matter who the opponent may be. For Coach Koeller, this means that an unrelenting mindset has to be enforced on the players at all times.

“Complacency can be a culprit to rob a team of culture. There is no room for it in our soccer culture we have established here. Our culture is built on a ‘we have never arrived’ or ‘we are never good enough’ attitude and behavior. Everything is earned; we strive for significance, not just success,” Coach Koeller said.

With this mindset, it’s no wonder the team has been able to stay undefeated for so long, but the challenge going forward, obviously, is going to be keeping it up over the next few weeks.

As far as the schedule goes, the biggest challenge for the Crusaders will most likely be The St. Louis Classic, which is a tournament hosted by St. Joseph’s Academy this weekend. Over the course of just two days—April 16 and 17th— the girls will battle it out with some of the top competition in the area; these include Cor Jesu Academy (7-2), Liberty (5-2) and Visitation Academy (3-3). Not to mention the fact that the team is also coming off a busy week of games that took place during the normal school week.

Yet as the season ramps up in intensity, junior Sophie Green feels like there is another factor that will help out the team besides talent and a proper mindset.

“A big part of success is knowing how to work with and encourage the people around you. On and off the field everyone is super motivating and there to help you with anything,” Green said.

Green even went into a little bit of detail about how the team connects with each other even if it isn’t game day.

“During the season we have team bonding nights with food and games to get to know each other. It’s a really nice break in between our games and practices and a fun way for everyone to bond in a different setting,” Green said.

This strong bond between teammates is definitely one of the defining factors that has held this team together, and all members of the team can feel it. Yet, while these freshman, sophomores, and juniors are still continuing to grow, the seniors of the squad have taken it upon themselves to rally the team and carry them to victory. When asked about it, senior Rylie Combs spoke about her responsibilities as a senior on the team and how she handles her leadership role.

“One big difference between this year and last season is how everyone comes to me and asks me questions about how to better their play. Many of my teammates look up to me and all the other seniors and captains on the team. I definitely have a lot more responsibility, because I have to set an example for everyone else and make sure I am always on my ‘A game’ and staying healthy,” Combs said.

Whether you attribute their incredible undefeated season to their pure talent, expert coaching, camaraderie or leaders, it’s evident that they have the winning formula. As of right now it seems like the girls just can’t be stopped, and the entire Crusader family is on the edge of their seats just waiting to see how far they’ll go. Stay tuned for more articles to come in the future, and always look to the St. Dominic website for information about game times and more!