Lady Cubs reflect on season
Coach looks toward bright future with program
A 5-17 record for the Monett girls soccer team this season may not be what they wanted on paper, but the growth of the team is evident in those five wins, and the future looks bright.
Neal Bluel, Monett soccer coach, said the story of the season was his team’s improvement from start to finish, including the district quarterfinal loss to Logan-Rogersville.
“We played really well in a complete downpour,” Bluel said of Monday’s district game. “Usually you have some lightning to break things up, but we didn’t, so we kept on playing.
“We held them to 1-0 at halftime, then a penalty kick against us in the second half transitioned us to being more offensive and they got another one because we were pushing up. The possession was close to 50-50, so to take a team like that and make it one of their toughest games of the season was pretty good.”
Bluel said the results against the Lady Wildcats were indicative of how much the team improved just over a month. On April 17, Monett lost to Logan-Rogersville 4-0 in the Branson Invitational. On April 22, the Lady Cubs cut into the scoreline, falling 5-3 at home. While the 3-0 district loss was more on the scoreboard, it was the best Monett had done against the familiar opponent.
“This was one of the best seasons we’ve had for growth,” Bluel said. “The year off last year [due to COVID] was tough for us, but if you look at this season from beginning to end, there are a few games to point to. We lost to Aurora [3-0] and Cassville [2-1] at the start, and by the end of the season, we had beat both of them [2-1 over Aurora and 4-1 over Cassville]. We played Logan-Rogersville three times and got a better result each time. Even their coach was very complimentary of us, and is a nice thing when other coaches notice that.”
Monett hopes to keep that growth going next season, especially since the Lady Cubs are losing a team’s worth of seniors — Sydney Parrigon, Jennifer Hurst, Deisy Mejia, Abigail Jastal, Kate Huntress, Jennifer Alberto, Melanie Cruz, Emily Shaw, Valerie Gutierrez, Natalie Turner, Ruby Rodriguez and Jennifer Faavi Cordero.
“Those 12 seniors, I told them at our banquet [on Thursday] that they did not have to come back out this year with it being a spring sport and so many things for seniors to do, but they all chose to because they really love the sport,” Bluel said. “It’s a good group of seniors and a lot of award-winners, both athletically and academically. They attracted a lot of good attention to this team and brought out their friends. Their numbers are remarkable, but even more is their positive personalities and their special quality.”
Looking ahead, Bluel said he’s excited to have a young team with experience and time to mold.
“We will be a young team but have a good group of players that know the game and have played from a young age,” he said. “We also have some eight-graders moving up that have played in the club, and our freshmen and sophomores are skilled. They will all have a couple years to grow, gel and build a strong playing style. They will be a force in a couple years, and we look to be pretty good for at least the next five years.”
Another exciting thing for Bluel is a Missouri State High School Athletics Association bylaws change that will allow for more practices in the offseason.
“We can do some skill practices in winter and open field practices in summer,” he said. “We are going to be doing more than ever this summer with some camps and getting younger players interested in the game. There’s also talk of a women’s amateur league starting, so that would be great to get more play outside of school. Monett is becoming a nice soccer place here in southwest Missouri.”
The Lady Cubs gave out team awards this week. They included:
JV MVP: Jennifer Alberto
Best Defensive Player: Jaida Worm and Sydney Parrigon
Best Offensive Player: Deisy Mejia (all-time goal leader for season, 15, and career, 22)
Varsity MVP: Kate Huntress