BELLEVILLE -- The Marion Wildcats girls' soccer squad is off to a 3-1 start to the spring season with wins this past week spread out over four days at the Metro East Cup hosted by Belleville Althoff. The Wildcats first defeated Freeburg last Tuesday, 5-1, and next dropped a heartbreaker last Wednesday to Alton, 1-0, before bouncing back with a 3-2 win over Breese Mater Dei Friday and then a 2-1 triumph over Mascoutah Saturday.
"Overall, Lauryn Kadela was our MVP of the tournament with all of the defensive plays she made," said head coach Jaime Clark-Verbeck. "She was solid and had strong support from our other center back, Makenzie Miller.
"While disheartened by all our injuries, it was great to see freshmen account for five goals in the tournament," Clark-Verbeck added. "When we are full strength, I think the experience these freshmen have gained will help us compete with the stronger teams (on our schedule)."
In the win over Freeburg, Nicole Szidik scored the team's first goal off a nice assist from Miller. Blake Clark, assisted by Margaux Bruce and Marissa Basi, scored the second goal. Clark scored the third goal off another assist from Basi.
The fourth goal was unassisted and credited to Szidik. The fifth and final goal was scored by freshman Addi Wall (usually a goaltender but forced into a position change due to injuries).
Game 2 was a match with a strong Alton ballclub.
"We hung right with them, losing 1-0 on a goal we scored on ourselves," Clark-Verbeck said. "Alton took a corner kick and it deflected off the leg of one of our players. This was a gutsy team effort and helps us measure how we compete against high-level competition. Lauren Kadela and Makenzie Miller were up to the challenge on defense, playing a remarkable game."
In the Game 3 win over Breese, Bruce, a freshman, scored the first goal. Clark followed with the second goal. And it was another freshman, Lily Garrett, who scored the game-winner with only three minutes left in regulation.
Finally, on Saturday, the Wildcats earned yet another hard-fought win, besting Mascoutah.
In the first half, Bruce split two defenders and scored. Mascoutah tied the game at 1-1. And then toward the end of the half, Bruce scored the game-winner off a corner kick from Basi.
"We had many scoring opportunities in the second half but were unable to finish," Clark-Verbeck said. "Still, to win with so many key players sidelined says a lot about this team."