This was one to remember, and one to savor.
Cathedral High School girls soccer in 2021 turned in one of their better seasons in recent memory while not quite reaching the Irish’s lofty postseason goals.
And they continued building on their status as one of Indiana’s top girls soccer programs.
“The coaches were really just very pleased with how the season went,” Marc Behringer said.
Behringer, Irish girls soccer coach for two-and-a-half decades, called the ’21 season one of the program’s “easiest” of his tenure. It wasn’t that the games or schedule was easy, just that the Irish were strikingly successful against what annually is one of the state’s toughest schedules.
The Irish, who finished the season No. 2 in the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Class 2A rankings, finished the season 12-2-6. They beat Beech Grove (9-0) and Batesville (7-0) to win the Class 3A, Section 27 title. They then beat South Dearborn 4-0 in a regional semifinal before losing 2-0 to Brebeuf in the regional final.
The Irish also won their seventh consecutive City Championship, beating Bishop Chatard by a score of 3-0 in the title game.
“Athletics in high school is an extension of the classroom, learning lessons and life,” Behringer said. “These girls far as that goes have done extremely well. This year’s team, I don’t know that I could have asked anymore of them. To me, that’s success.
“It’s unfortunate things didn’t fall the way they could have, but they’re definitely winners and it was a heck of a season.”
Cathedral in many ways outplayed Brebeuf in the regional final, outshooting Brebeuf 19-7 with 10 shots inside the box to one for Brebeuf. The Irish also held the corner-kick advantage, 10-4.
“It’s sort of like baseball where one team can hit line drive after line drive directly at the opponent and the other team gets one hit and it’s a home run and they win,” Behringer said. “If you look at the statistics from the match, you would say we won. That makes it tough.
“It’s a little easier to walk away from a season when a team outplays you. When you’re playing well and it doesn’t go your way, that makes it a little tougher.”
The Irish’s only other loss of the season came in the season-opener, 5-0, to Class 3A No. 1 Noblesville.
“In between no one could beat us,” Behringer said. “We really felt we had a shot to win the whole thing this year. We really though that we were right there with the favorites.
“The girls just kept making steady progress all season. Given the schedule that we have, you would have expected somebody would knock us off along the way and it never happened. The girls were competitive at the very least with all the teams.”
The Irish in 2021 featured a mix of seniors and underclassmen, a makeup that made for strong leadership in the present and hope for the future. Behringer said the seven-member senior class keyed the team’s success and included:
*Lauren Caldwell, attacking midfielder. “She really was the catalyst behind our attack,” Behringer said of Caldwell, who had a team-leading nine assists with three goals. “Most of our successful attacks went through Lauren.”
*Elle Lewis, a captain and attacker who led the team in goals as a senior after playing defensive midfielder as a junior. “It takes a special attitude to be able to deal with that kind of change and understand the expectations year after year from the coaches,” Behringer said. “She just was that kid who did whatever you needed her to do.”
*Ella Maher, a captain/defender and starter since the end of her freshman season. “She typically defended the opponent’s best attacking player,” Behringer said. “She was just a worker kid, and just relentless. She did that for four years.”
*Gracie Jarrett, attacker. “She was a physical presence,” Behringer said. “She did work that doesn’t show up in statistics. She was willing to do all the little things. She’s absolutely a beloved player in the program from the freshmen on up.”
*Meredith Ward, a first-year varsity player. “She really gave the team really good minutes, and maybe even exceeded expectations,” Behringer said. “She was a solid part of our team.”
*Sophia Kemp and Estella Redman, two seniors who served as leaders on the junior varsity before being on the varsity roster for the state tournament.
“The team just got along so well,” Behringer said. “The team just continued the tradition that we’ve built with the type of leadership we have ongoing in the program. It could have been a tough meshing to occur. The seniors just did an incredible job.”
The Irish also featured a strong core of underclassman players, including goaltender Kate Phillips – a captain who Behringer called one of the state’s top players at her position. Junior Anna Spellacy also was key, as were freshmen Abby Beasley and Rosie Martin. Beasley led the Irish in scoring with seven goals and six assists.
“As far as the health of the program,” Behringer said, “maybe when we won a couple [of state titles] from 2007-2010 was the only other time we felt this confident about where the program is and how it’s going. We’re going to need a couple of pieces to the puzzle that we think we have. We have players on the roster already who have shown they can fill those responsibilities very well for us next year.”