St. Joseph girls soccer ready playoff run to take flight

Feb. 6, 2012 at 3:05 a.m.
Updated Feb. 5, 2012 at 8:06 p.m.

St. Joseph captain Nicole Sontheimer controls the ball down the left wing for the Lady Flyers. Sontheimer leads the team with 11 assists.

St. Joseph captain Nicole Sontheimer controls the ball down the left wing for the Lady Flyers. Sontheimer leads the team with 11 assists.

They expect things to be much different this time.

Whether the St. Joseph girls soccer team win or lose their TAPPS Div. I area playoff game against Plano John Paul II Monday afternoon, they figure to play better, expect to have more fun on the field, and hope that belief will continue to result in positive results.

St. Joseph (7-7) has won five of its last seven games. Throughout the season midfielder Nicole Sontheimer and forward Amanda Groenhuyzen have put up prodigious offensive numbers.

But this streak has been a comprehensive effort from the full team - all 12 of them.

Since the beginning of the calendar year the Lady Flyers are 5-2. In that period, they have outscored opponents 21-9, for a plus-12 goal differential. Through the first seven games of the season, the St. Joseph goal differential was a minus-10.

In the Crossroads Classic four weeks ago St. Joseph head coach Vicki Sontheimer praised Morgan Barker, Kristin Sontheimer and Ally Lozano for their work in the back. Goalkeeper Anna Samples took it a step further, by calling all of them beasts.

"They have stepped it up and they hold the line," Samples said about the offside trap the Lady Flyers sometimes spring on opponents. "Morgan holds the line and we've got it down where we can catch teams offside. .they have the speed to keep up with the fast forwards and the leg strength to kick it up to our forwards to give them a run on goal."

Junior goalie Annie Gilliam said the defense tries to quickly get the ball to Sontheimer and Groenhuyzen, not only to alleviate pressure on that side of the field, but to tire out opponents.

"It's really difficult, but we play together," Gilliam said. "We support each other in all we do. We talk and try to encourage each other during games. A lot of times, we work around in such a way that it allows everyone to play the entire game."

Gilliam has split time with Samples in goal throughout the season. When she is not in goal she is deployed in the Lady Flyers defense.

The communication Gilliam and senior midfielder Kaitlyn Cantu referenced also includes telling teammates they have time on the ball, whether there is a defender behind them and where their passing option is on the field. Those might seem small, but St. Joseph has done that more since the beginning of January, than they did in the first half of the season.

Samples said the team was disappointed in their effort and play entering the winter break. She said they knew they had the potential to play better it was all about showing that on the field.

This constant sense of belief began in mid-January when the Lady Flyers squared off against the junior varsity of Houston St. Agnes in the Crossroads Classic. This is the third season St. Joseph has played St. Agnes in the tournament, but the first time the Lady Flyers were victorious.

Vicki Sontheimer's team had a two-goal lead in that contest. When the Tigers tied the match, rather than sinking to the inevitability of a loss, the Lady Flyers won the game in a shootout.

St. Joseph lost to Plano John Paul II 7-0 in the 2011 playoffs. As much as Cantu and Gilliam have tried not to recall that game, they do. And they are determined to play all 80 minutes this time.

The Cardinals are 18-5-4 this season. But, like the Lady Flyers, they are coming off a loss in their last game of the regular season.

"We didn't play as best we could," Cantu said. "This year we know not to give up and we do only have 12 people. We need to push whether we are tired or not. We know we need to keep going until the last whistle blows."



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