Winning regional titles in back-to-back seasons is a notable achievement, something any coach would be proud of.
But Gibault girls soccer coach Matt Reeb is hungry for more.
Reeb, in his fourth season at the helm of the Hawks, believes his team has the potential to take it to the next level this season, a belief echoed by his players.
“The girls know what they are capable of,” he said. “They aren’t satisfied with the past two seasons.”
The Hawks came out strong right out of the gate in 2015, defeating Centralia, Mascoutah and Freeburg last week to win their bracket of the Metro Cup.
Gibault will rely on a strong veteran core in pursuit of its goals. Eight starters return from last season’s regional title-winning squad, led by senior co-captains Liz and Rachel Kuerz, who will anchor the back line along with juniors Jess Wittenauer, Robyn Lindsey and sophomore Caralyn Papenberg.
The Hawks’ offense looks strong as well. Juniors Nicole Swindle, Monica Schuler and Paige Lane are back to control the midfield, while junior Abby Hasenstab, Carley Olson and Maddie O’Neill will be counted on to provide a majority of the scoring up top.
Olson notched five goals in the Metro Cup tourney, with O’Neill adding four scores.
While their experience will be a key ingredient, Gibault will also be relying on some new faces to step up and fill the gaps left by last year’s seniors. Replacing two-time all-area goalkeeper Kendra Davis will be no easy task, but Reeb expects Kelly Dooley and Abbie Meyer to be an effective duo between the pipes.
“I’m confident that both will do a good job this year,” he said.
Reeb is also expecting a breakout year from promising freshman Abby Phelps.
“She is a very talented player and should be a major contributor to this year’s team,” he said.
While Reeb is confident his team has the tools to make a deep postseason run, he also acknowledged that his team’s ability to accomplish their goals is contingent on much more than talent alone. Health is a constant concern — a fact Reeb knows all too well. His team was decimated by injuries at the end of last season.
“The main focus for me is to keep players healthy,” he said. “Our talent will naturally produce wins, but we have to stay healthy.”
As usual, Reeb has loaded his schedule in preparation for the postseason. Gibault will face some of the top teams on both sides of the river.
The Hawks host Collinsville Wednesday before taking on cross-town rival Waterloo at WHS this Saturday at 11:15 a.m.