St. Teresa’s Academy soccer coach Jeremy McElduff gathered his team together for one final post-match huddle last Saturday and gave a speech he hoped wouldn’t be needed.
But after the Stars’ bid for their first Missouri Class 3 girls soccer state championship since 2006 fell short — with a 3-2 overtime loss to St. Joseph’s Academy of St. Louis in the championship match — McElduff was stuck with delivering the losing speech. He opted for an encouraging outlook.
“The big thing I told the girls is don’t let this game define the whole season because it’s not the whole season,” McElduff said. “It’s a big part of it, but they had a great season despite this.”
It was literally perfect until the state championship loss Saturday at Blue Springs South.
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The Stars finished 22-1 in a season that included first-place trophies at the MO-KAN Challenge and the Tournament of Champions in Iowa. That propelled them to the No. 1 ranking in the nation before Saturday’s loss.
“This has been my best high school season of all four years,” St. Teresa’s Academy captain and defender Christina DeZeeuw said. “We have really great players and really great coaches. I’m going to miss it here. I really enjoyed it.”
St. Teresa’s Academy nearly capped it off with a state championship, but St. Joseph’s Academy erased a 2-0 deficit and then pulled out a 3-2 victory in double overtime. Freshman Tess Rellihan scored both goals for the Stars and finished with 21 for the season to lead the team.
“I knew she would be a good player for us who could contribute,” McElduff said. “But she surprised even us with how well she played all year.”
Rellihan will be one of the underclassmen charged with helping St. Teresa’s return to the state tournament for the third straight season.
It won’t be easy.
The Stars will lose senior starters Savannah Trujillo, Mallory Radtke, Elizabeth Luallin and DeZeeuw.
The core group of returners will be headlined by Dorian Bailey, who was named the Missouri Gatorade player of the year after scoring 15 goals with seven assists this spring, her junior season.
The Lutheran girls soccer team’s first trip to the state tournament finished without a victory. Lutheran settled for fourth place in the Missouri Class 1 tournament last Saturday.
“We’ve never been to state before, so getting anywhere in the top four is still awesome for us,” senior Sierra Grimm said. “It’s still an honor to be here.”
Grimm led the team with 58 goals. Abigail Benz scored 25 goals and also led the team with 25 assists. The two forwards each scored during a 4-2 semifinal loss to Springfield Catholic on Friday.
After dropping its first match of the season, Lutheran used a 21-match unbeaten streak to reach the Final Four for the first time.
“We’re one of the top four teams in the state, so kudos to the girls,” Lutheran coach Oliseh Chuks said. “They did a good job.”