Marc Behringer hardly could have been more pleased.
Cathedral High School girls soccer in 2022 moved up in competition – and difficulty – and turned in a remarkable season with a deep run in the state tournament.
The Irish also stayed true to program values and approach, finishing among state’s top eight teams by overcoming adversity and playing solid defense with an opportunistic offense – and by playing with heart and desire. All of that mattered. A lot.
“Sport is about developing human beings, and this group showed the kind of character that we hope being part our program will develop in these young ladies,” Behringer said following his 27th season as Irish girls soccer coach. “I’m really happy with what the outcome of the season was for these young student-athletes.”
The Irish, after moving up from Class 2A, competed in 2022 as the smallest school in Class 3A. They finished the season 12-5-4, losing to Carmel – the state’s biggest school – 4-2 in a Regional Final.
The Irish, who finished as the city runner-up, finished 11th in the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Class 3A rankings. They then advanced to the regional final by beating Lawrence Central 5-0 in the Class 3A Section 11 final and beating East Central 1-0 in the regional semifinal.
The Irish fell behind Carmel 3-0 at halftime on the road in the regional final. They fought through the second half, playing through injuries in the defensive midfield and chipping away at the lead. They cut the lead to 3-1, had a penalty kick saved, then fell behind 4-1 and lost goalkeeper Kate Phillips to a concussion before rallying for the final margin.
“The kind of character that was displayed is the end goal of all of this,” Behringer said. “We love to raise trophies and win championships. We’ve done it probably more than our fair share. But this group achieved what the coaching staff had hoped it would achieve by the end of the season.”
The Irish in 2022 beat two teams that finished the season ranked in the ISCA Class 3A poll: No. 8 Fishers and No. 18 East Central. They lost to Class 3A No. 1 Noblesville, Class 3A No. 3 Carmel, Class 2A No. 2 Brebeuf and Class 2A No. 4 Guerin Catholic. They also tied Class 3A No. 14 North Central and Class 3A No. 4 Zionsville.
“We’ve always played a tough schedule, so that really wasn’t that different,” Behringer said. “It was more going to be matter of when we got to the end of the season how healthy would we be and would we have found our identity by then?
“We thought that would give us a chance that we wanted to have. We were able to do that.”
The Irish in 2022 were one of the program’s younger teams in recent memory, with two senior captains – Phillips and midfielder Anna Spellacy – the lone varsity seniors.
Phillips was one of the state’s top goaltenders and a player Behringer called “just a fantastic leader all year,” and the core of Phillips and Spellacy keyed a strong Irish defense that featured a quality back four and two strong midfielders.
The Irish had 12 shutouts in 2022. Defense keyed the state-tournament run, with the Irish shutting out their first four postseason opponents – including an East Central team that scored 100 goals in 2022.
“That’s really the starting point,” Behringer said. “Having two seniors in the middle of the field defensively was a big reason we were able to defend as well as we did.”
Phillips and sophomore defensive midfielder Rosie Martin were named first-team All-District 3, with sophomore Abby Beasley and junior Catherine Cline being named second-team All-District 3.
The Irish became adept in 2022 at scoring off corners and set pieces. Cline finished the season with 11 assists and Beasley finished with 12 goals – with half of Beasley’s goals on headers. The pair was consistent and reliable with Cline registering an assist in 10 different games and Beasley scoring a goal in 11 different matches.
“The two of them were that combination that got us that one, then we could turn it over to the defense and say, ‘Hey, let’s get a win out of this,’’’ Behringer said. “That was our MO this year. When this team was good, we were figuring out ways to manufacture goals.
“We did not score an exorbitant number of goals, but if we did score we were incredibly stingy defensively. That’s sort of the MO of all the teams we’ve had go deep into the tournament.”
The Irish’s youth in 2022 leaves a historically strong program with a bright future, and helped produce a memorable season.
“We bring back a junior class that’s probably more experienced than any class I’ve ever had,” Behringer said. “I don’t think I’ve had as few varsity seniors. We would have loved to have gotten ourselves back to another final four, but when you move up in class and you’re the smallest school in that class, to get to the final eight your first year back is pretty good.
“That’s nothing to hang your head about.”