Coach Thom Hayes says he couldn’t ask for anything more when it comes to leadership from the three seniors on his Trinity Lutheran girls soccer team.
“All of them have played all four years,” he said about Flossie Cooper, Erin Enzinger and Genesis Munoz. “They definitely bring leadership to the team and just positive attitudes, and they really had an impact on the season.”
Hayes is in his second season as head coach of the Cougars, but he had been around some of the players with travel teams.
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Munoz is the Cougars’ goalie. Enzinger and Cooper were listed in the sectional program as defensive players, although Hayes said Cooper has played wherever she is needed.
Munoz holds the school’s career record for goalie saves with 404.
“She been solid, consistent,” Hayes said. “She’s great at directing everyone during the game. They might have someone sneaking in on the weak side, and she’s there to let everyone know, so she has been the eyes on the field during games. During practices, all of them but Genesis and Flossie in particular have been getting us moving and keeping everybody in line with what we want to get done.”
All three seniors said winning the sectional last weekend 2-0 over Providence sits at the top of their lists of soccer accomplishments, and they are very much looking forward to playing Washington Catholic in the Forest Park Class A regional at noon Saturday.
Munoz was confident she could help the Cougars win the school’s first girls soccer sectional title.
“Out of all games, I came in with full confidence knowing that we would come out champions,” Munoz said after the win. “From beginning to end, our defense just was crazy good today. We knew where to be, we listened so well, we communicated with each other and we moved the ball super well. We were there when someone else was going after a ball. We dropped back to help. We played a perfect game today.”
She said the Cougars played hard to the end.
“I always like to think the score is zero until the very end,” Munoz said. “At halftime, I was talking to the girls, saying that we have to act like either we’re losing or the score is tied. We can’t play the score. So yes, when (Sarah Lemming) scored, I was able to get a little breather, but there was so much game time left that I knew literally anything could happen.
“The second goal (by Kailene Cockerham) definitely gave me more confidence for sure, but I still knew we had to keep our 100% game intensity up for the entire game.”
The Cougars produced significant highlights.
“We made history this year, and we made it a bunch of different ways,” Munoz said. “Kailene broke the school record, I have a school record and we brought home a girls sectional championship for the first time,”
Enzinger said it takes teamwork to succeed on defense.
“I play defense and Genesis does a good job of telling people where to be at on defense,” Enzinger said. “I play on the outside, so I just try to keep the ball pushed out and get it up the field to the offense. We all did a good job of backing each other up and getting it out when it came back and taking care of each other and playing as a team.”
Enzinger said scoring the first goal was huge for her team.
“Especially when we got that first goal, the joy just washed over me,” she said. “We had never done this good against Providence before. We’ve played them in the finals every year I’ve been at Trinity. It feels so good to finally beat them and get the sectional championship. I didn’t expect it, but I’m really glad it happened.”
The soccer-football field at Providence has a turf, a surface the Cougars only rarely saw this season.
“Turf is definitely a faster game,” Cooper said. “You have a lot more ball skill, just a lot more control in general. You can kind of predict the bounce better on the turf than the grass.”
It rained most of the second half Saturday, and Cooper said the ball traveled faster on the wet surface.
She said the sectional title still feels unreal.
“It was just the most amazing feeling that I ever experienced,” Cooper said. “My freshman year, my first game was actually against Providence, and they beat us 9-0, so to come out and beat them 2-0 my senior year on their turf is really special.”
The Cougars are 7-7, while Washington Catholic is 9-6-1. The teams have one common opponent in Salem. The Cougars lost to the Lions 1-0, while the Cardinals and Lions ended up 1-1.
“I’d say that puts us comparable,” Hayes said. “We didn’t play our best game at Salem, and we were missing one of our scorers. When you only have 14 and you’re missing one, even if it’s not a scorer, you feel it.”
Hayes said the key for the Cougars will be emotional focus.
“It’s just going to be keeping up the intensity,” Hayes said. “Any time we didn’t play well, it’s because we didn’t come out with the intensity we needed to. “
He said it is important to score the first goal of a match.
“I look back when I wasn’t happy with the outcome of the game, we usually got down early, and by the time we woke up, it was too late. Momentum is definitely a big thing. If you lose it, it’s hard to get it back,” he said.
“You only have 80 minutes. There is no time out in soccer. You’ve got to keep watching and keep encouraging and hope they keep it up, and if they do start to lose it, then it is all up to the players to do it because you can’t bring them to the sidelines like you can in basketball.”
Forest Park (7-4) plays Oldenburg Academy (7-4-2) in the first match at 10 a.m., followed by Trinity-Washington. The championship match starts at 7 p.m. The winner of the regional will advance to either the Seymour or Evansville semistate.
Hayes said he feels the Cougars are prepared.
“We’ve got a good group of girls,” he said. “I feel like there is not a lot of micromanaging that I had to do during the season.”
Cooper is ready, too.
“I think it’s going to come down to who wants it more,” she said.