All in all, Marc Behringer couldn’t have been more pleased.
Cathedral High School girls soccer remained strong in 2019, maintaining its longtime tradition as one of the state’s top programs. Falling just short in the postseason didn’t change that.
“This group of seniors did their job,” Behringer, the Irish’s coach, said shortly after the ’19 season ended with a loss in the sectional tournament. “As far as continuing the level of expectations, the level of excellence, our tradition … this team did successfully continue that.
“As far as the program is concerned, they did their part. Unfortunately, they just weren’t able to end on the note they would have liked.”
The Irish, who in 2018 won the third state title in program history, in 2019 finished 7-7-2 and lost to Batesville, 0-0, on penalty kicks in a Class 2A, Section 27 semifinal.
The Irish outshot Batesville, 25-3.
“Really, it ended up kind of being more about us than about them,” Behringer said. “As the game went on longer and longer, it became more and more lopsided toward us. That was not a surprise. This team came in as fit physically as any team I’ve coached at Cathedral.
“The longer the games go on, the better off we normally are. That happened in every aspect of the [final] game – except the ball going in the goal.”
The loss ended a season in which the Irish again played one of the state’s toughest schedules. They finished the regular season No. 2 in the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Girls poll.
“It can be a cruel game that way,” Behringer said of the season’s final match. “Every once in a while, it comes back to bite you. Our last two matches last year [the ’18 state semifinal and final) were lopsided in the other direction. Those two teams left feeling like, ‘Wow, we played really well, and we just couldn’t do it.’ It’s tough.
“It’s really tough primarily on the seniors. That’s it for them, and they put so much work in. It’s tough when you play as well as we did in the last match and you don’t get a result.”
The loss ended the career of a senior class that won four consecutive city championships, a class Behringer called “a huge part” of the ’18 state title.
“They achieved that,” Behringer said. “They got there. I just know everybody felt like we had a chance at it [again in 2019].”
The Irish in ’19 also registered victories over Class 2A top-ranked Brebeuf Jesuit and Guerin Catholic, and beat Bishop Chatard in the City Title game.
“Our three enormous rivals, we won all three matches,” Behringer said. “That’s a real credit to this team and to the seniors.”
The Irish for a second consecutive season were a strong defensive team with elite goaltending, with Behringer saying the Irish for a second consecutive seasons “kind of needed to manufacture goals.” Seven goals led the Irish in scoring ’18; five goals led the Irish in ’19.
“We didn’t have that one kid or couple of players who kind of their being is based on scoring goals,” Behringer said. “It’s tough to play that way.”
The 2019 team was led by a strong senior class that included 2018 second-team All-State midfielder and co-captain Carson Kwiatkowski and senior co-captain centerbacks Bridget Stratman and Marcelle Blanchet. Along with senior midfielder Ellie Sheddy, it was a foursome that rarely came off the field and provided leadership throughout the season.
Senior attacker Kate Morris, senior attacker Maddie Wirth, senior backer Gabby Najem, senior attacker Sidney Swindell and senior Mary White – who Behringer said was a valuable “all-purpose player” – also were key to a senior class that kept the program at an elite level.
“The girls will get through the disappointment and come to understand that we were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 the entire season,” Behringer said. “We’re still right there. The seniors did a really good job of keeping us at the level we want to be.”
Behringer said the Irish’s future looks as strong as their recent past, with freshman goalkeeper Kate Phillips having had a strong season and junior Caroline Cline this past season transitioning into one of the team’s top defensive players and typically checking the opponent’s top scorer.
“She [Cline] looks like she’s going to be a key to our success next year,” Behringer said.
Freshman Anna Spellacy also had a strong season, as did sophomore Ella Maher after transitioning this past season from wing back to central midfielder.
“We’ve got a number of players coming back,” Behringer said, adding that the ’20 senior class is expected to total 12 players. “We’re really excited for next year, just like always. We will once again be a veteran team and we’re really looking forward to these players getting their opportunity after waiting behind such large classes. They’ll have their opportunity to step up and carry on this fine level of performance we’ve had the last couple of years.
“Going forward, the girls know what the expectation is. We expect to be at the top. You don’t expect an end to the season like we had this year. Going forward, I expect we’ll be at the right end of it.”