Lady ‘Cats set wins record

Cassville girls soccer exceeds season’s expectations

BY KYLE TROUTMAN ktroutman@cassville-democrat.com

A new era of Cassville girls soccer is dawning following a record-setting season that ended in one of the most painful ways in the sport — a penalty shootout.

This year’s Lady Wildcats set the record for wins with a 13-6-2 mark, besting the 11-10 record of the first varsity season in 2019, and it tied its season record for shutouts with 8. Individually, senior Emma Berndt set the single-season goals record with 19, and fellow senior Audrey Gosvener set the single-season assist record with 14.

Jazmin Aguirre, one of the program’s original players and 2019 graduate, held the previous goals record, and her teammates, Kamryn Jaques and Juliette Okel, held the assist record.

Yet, the Lady Wildcats’ season came to a halt in the opening round of the Class 2, District 5 Tournament with a 1-0 loss to New Covenant Academy in kicks from the mark. It was the third match of the season against the Lady Warriors, and it was the Lady Wildcats’ first loss.

“It was a good season, and we didn’t really know what to expect going in because last year things didn’t go our way,” Forste said. “But, we exceeded expectations in a lot of ways, but we ultimately came up short in the playoffs. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

Leading up to districts, Cassville had gone 7-3, including a 3-2 overtime win over NCA just two weeks prior. Forste said that run can be attributed to progressive improvement on the defensive end over the season.

“We made a lot of strides defensively,” he said. “The first couple weeks, we were a little leaky, and we were moving a lot of people around. But, we started clicking around the beginning of week four, and we finished with a 1.75 goals against average. Defense and in possession, those were our two biggest areas of improvement.”

Some of Cassville’s success came on the backs of its seniors, including Berndt and Gosvener, who were captains with Scotlyn Richardson; exchange student Rozenn Planchard; four-year player Gracen Hilburn; and newcomer Zoe Saylor.

“They were definitely our leaders,” Forste said. “They were an integral part of the team, and our attack was made up of four seniors, so they were pretty valuable.”

Despite the losses, Forste said Cassville has a strong core to build upon, and numbers this season were exceptionally high.

“Sophomore Ava Hinson has been our keeper for two years, but we plan to move her up into the attack,” he said. “Freshman Lydia Cupps played center mid for us all season but can play anywhere. First-year sophomore Tyra Sturgell was our co-defensive player of the year, and I have some designs on moving her up into the attack. Juniors Ashley Alonso and Isa Rodriguez Muise also played all over the field, and we will rely on them more next year.

“We’re losing creativity there, so we’ll have a bunch of players in defensive roles moving up to the attack, and JV defenders will move in to those spots.”

Forste said the main goal set for next season so far is simple — keep momentum going.

“The big thing is in the last few years we’ve been attritioned out,” he said. “Losing seniors is tough, but we’ve also had some academic eligibility issues and kids moving in and out of the district. It felt like a boom when we had 30-plus on the team after only 14-15 did offeseason workouts.

“We want to continue those numbers next year and maintain a fun, friendly atmosphere.”

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