This article is from the IndyStar
INDIANAPOLIS – It happens every year: A team wins a state title, and the expectation — both internally and externally — is success will continue. That's the situation Cathedral's girls soccer team found itself in after winning the Class 2A title last October .
And yet, even after a 1-0 win over 2A No. 1 Brebeuf Jesuit on Wednesday night, the Irish are 3-4-2 this season. If you're just looking at records, that doesn't scream state title contender. Cathedral coach Marc Behringer knows this.
“We say, ‘Are we getting better?’ If we were focused on our record that could be a bit of a downer," he said. "To get a win like this is at this point in the season goes a long way.”
A deeper look into the Irish — both where they're coming from and where they are — shows they'll likely still be a force to contend with come tournament time.
They graduated 12 seniors, including two of their leading scorers and their goalkeeper. Behringer says this is a "new team," and they came into the season with plenty to prove.
“We were going to have to find out if a lot of girls who had not played on a varsity field yet and a freshman goalkeeper were going to be ready to play against Carmel, Brebeuf, Nobesville, Avon, Guerin," he said. "My expectation was that we were going to have to go through the whole process. Externally and internally it’s, ‘Are you going to go do it again?’”
And it hasn't been all smooth sailing. They didn't score a single goal in their first two matches of the season. They've scored just nine all year, and they've allowed 12. But each of their losses have either come to 3A top-20 teams (Noblesviile, Carmel and Brownsburg) or out-of-state competition. Because of that, the Irish entered the week ranked No. 2 in 2A, behind Brebeuf. They'll likely take over the top spot next week.
But that's just one more thing to not pay attention to.
“It’s hard to get them to not focus on the rankings, on certain players on the other team," Behringer said. "The schedule we have beats us up enough that the players learn pretty quickly that we’re not the best team in the world. We don’t have to be. We have to be the best team we can be by the time the tournament rolls around. Then you roll the dice and see how you do.”
The pace of the soccer season does them few favors, either. They have two games in the next five days, then a week off before one more regular-season game against Guerin Catholic. The City tournament could mean three games in six days, then sectionals start the next week.
“You don’t have much time to get a team playing cohesive. It’s difficult to train very hard because you’re always recovering or preparing for the next match," Behringer said. "You can be unlucky with an injury. A turned ankle might mean half the season. You need to keep the girls confident, but hungry and working.”
At the end of the day, it's about expectation management.
"They want to win every match and they want to win state. That’s fantastic. But realistically, winning every match in Indiana is incredibly challenging," Behringer said. "That’s the way it is. We want to win the state championship, no doubt about it. But there are so many little steps along the way.”
Wednesday night was a good step in the right direction — a road win against a rival that marked the first win in four matches.
After the game, Behringer's message was simple.
"That's an important step," he told his team. "Hopefully we get a chance to play them again in regionals."
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