The last time the Westminster Wildcats beat Visitation in a District match was 2009 when they won in the first round of play 1-0, back when there were 8 (or 9 that year) teams playing in Districts. Since then seven wins over Westminster for the Vivettes in eight years in the Final (2014 Westminster lost to Parkway West in the semifinals), and eight District titles secured.
PHOTO GALLERY – Westminster at Visitation another hundred to edit still!
Visitation got their eighth consecutive title as their forward tandem did their job. Sophomore Jamie Tottleben (Indiana) opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Fr. Becca Zaber’s ball over the defense sent her in alone, scoring her team-leading 19th goal. Her partner on the front line, Kayleigh Stahlschmidt (Northwestern) was released by Tottleben with a simple touch, scoring her 16th goal in the 35th for a 2-0 lead. The two players have scored 34 of the teams 41 goals.
Becca Zaber is a player to watch for the Vivette’s over the next four years. Only a freshman, she has gone from 20 minutes a game earlier this year to earning a starting position and playing the vast majority of minutes in her midfield role. I first noticed her work in the loss to Webster Groves. While the Vivettes often look to be in a 3-4-3 formation, Head Coach Bill Daues tells me it’s a 5-3-2 with the outside backs going forward quite a bit. Zaber lines up with Jr. Caroline Davis in more defensive roles with Sr. Kailey Knopf in an attacking role. Discussing Zaber’s ascension the characteristics he described were her reliability in holding and passing the ball as well as her contributions to the offense, stating she is “more of an 8 than a 6”. He is referring to the Principles of Play espoused by US Soccer. The biggest loss to graduation Visitation experienced was Abby O’Keefe’s departure to Xavier. Zaber has a way to go to have O’Keefe’s impact but have your daughters watch her work as the playoffs continue and tell me what you think. By the way, one other item worth noting – she’s a coaches daughter. Her father Jay is an assistant for the team and her older sister Kat is the goalkeeper. As Kat notes in her Twitter bio “My father is Jay Z”.
The 5-3-2 formation was predicated by the loss of Camryn Sprague (Truman State) to an ACL injury. She returned in late April and the system has continued to avoid disruption to the training. The biggest impact was on another freshman, Hailee Fritsche, who played beside Brynne Polivka at the start of the season and will likely step into a leadership role in the back in 2018 with the graduation of Sprague and Polivka.
For Westminster, the graduation of Kirsten Davis (pictured above) will be a significant loss. Measured in goals, 173 established by a wide margin the school’s career scoring mark which puts her in the top rank of Missouri players. An NSCAA All-American last year, she is likely to be recognized at that level again and has to be on the Gatorade Player of the Year short list. She’s headed to Texas Tech this Summer, joining Carly Wickenheiser (St. Joe) in representing St. Louis for the Red Raiders.
Seniors Taylor French in goal, Sydney Walker (SLU) and Natalie Bunton in central defense and Kyrstin Pritchett in central midfield mean the core of the team is graduating. Head Coach Kelly Dryden has done an excellent job of instilling a ball movement model for the team the past two years but the loss of 8 seniors will likely mean a slow start. Juniors Mollie Ottsen and Sarah Shoemaker in midfield and Alexis Turner on defense give the Wildcats a good start and I’m a big fan of sophomore Molly Andersen and freshman Riley Merrifield.