The Columbia girls soccer team is out for revenge, and more. After being eliminated by Gibault in the regional championship game last season, Steve Ross’s bunch wants to get another good shot at their arch-rivals, but the team also has bigger goals in mind.
“We obviously want to beat our rival,” Ross said. “But that’s just one of our goals. We want to take the regional back this year, and, without getting ahead of ourselves, we want to get back to state.”
Eight Eagles starters return from last year’s team, which looks to be strong on both sides of the ball. A pair of “dynamic” juniors, Lauren Kaempfe (11 goals, 2 assists last season) and Lauren Tolan (10 goals, 4 assists) will be counted on to put the ball in the net, as will Rianna Probst.
Coach Ross has high expectations for his offense.
“We’re already showing improvements from last year,” he said. “Everyone is a year older and several of the girls played with club teams in the offseason. That experience will help.”
Columbia’s defense is also looking good. Goalkeeper Allison Riddle is ready to take the reins full-time after splitting time in net last season. Seniors Rachel Ribolzi and Kristina Rein will provide stability and leadership on the back line, and Allison Ford, Casey Wood, Claire Hausmann, and Allison Murphy will also play major roles in the midfield and defense.
Ross also pointed to two girls Mackenzie Lowe and Hannah Heller, as key role players.
While the Eagles have plenty of experience, Ross is also looking forward to watching several freshmen get their chance, including Madelyne Juenger, Blair Wittenbrink and Kalee Jackson.
“We have lots of potential,” he said.
Like other coaches, Ross knows the importance of using the regular season to prepare for the playoffs. Columbia’s schedule includes several local powerhouses, including Althoff, Notre Dame, and Cor Jesu.
“We don’t play for the regular season; we play for the postseason,” Ross said. “We use our schedule as a catalyst for the playoffs.”