They’re good. Maybe good enough to win championships.
Marc Behringer has experience with such teams, and the longtime Cathedral High School girls soccer coach has that sort of good feeling about 2023 Irish.
“It’s pretty clear that this team could do the whole deal,” he said.
The Irish, long a state power and a three-time state champion during Behringer’s 28-year tenure as head coach, won the last three sectional titles. They returned the core of the 2022 team and were ninth in the class 3A Indiana Soccer Coaches rankings with a 5-3-1 record through September 5.
“You obviously have to have a lot of things go your way,” Behringer said, “but this team has the talent and appears to have the work ethic and the family connection to each other that typically turns out good, strong performances at the end of the year in the tournament.”
The Irish, state titlists in 2008 and 2010 and Class 2A state titlest in 2018, entered September with what Behringer called as talented a roster as he has had at Cathedral. Behringer called it a balanced, veteran team with five seniors and five juniors among the 19 varsity players.
“They have the experience and the camaraderie among them,” Behringer said. “They have the drive, the desire and they're setting their goals high, which is great. We’re in the same process as every year. We're trying to get better every day. Each match we're finding out more about ourselves and what weed to do to be successful.
“Halfway through the season, I like where this group is.”
The Irish in 2023 are led by three senior captains:
*Defender/defensive midfielder Catherine Cline, who will play collegiately at Loyola-Chicago. “She has been solid for us,” Behringer said. “She hits our corners, our free kicks. She’s just a real important piece of our puzzle.”
*Forward/attacker Eliza Langfeldt. ‘She has incredible pace,” Behringer said. “Her speed really throws off a lot of defenses.”
*Defender Libby Lewis, who – like Langfelt and Cline – is a four-year player who has been key to the Irish program throughout her career.
Key as seniors, too: Forward and Toledo commit Amya Usher, defender Mary Hughes, defender Lilah Dausman, defender Katherine McCauley, forward Karstyn Ward and midfielder Phoebe Wheeler.
“I would say we're actually pretty balanced this year,” Behringer said. “We're typically a really strong defensive team. And I think we're going to round into form that way as we typically do. The attack has been better this year than it has in the past few.
“We’re able to score more goals. We're more dangerous.”
Junior midfielder Abby Beasley led the Irish with six goals through eight games, with Usher and Langfelt scoring four goals each during that span. Junior Keira Bradford also had three goals through two games and junior Addy Wong at that time had two goals.
“This team's going to have to keep making progress,” Behringer said. “It's a lot of little things that make the difference in the end. Our communication must get better on the field. We have to do a better job of finishing off matches. As happens with a lot of young teams, when you get ahead, it's easy to kind of relax and, and then you don't finish the game. You allow the other team back into the match.
“We've done that a couple of times this year. It’s just little things really.”
Lewis’ ability on throws has made the Irish dangerous on set pieces, with Cline strong on free kicks and Behringer calling Beasley the best goal scorer with her head I’ve ever had.”
“We’ve got some things we do that are really important and that make a difference,” Behringer said. “They can be the difference in matches.”
Behringer said the result has been an enjoyable, competitive team that lost to Indiana’s No. 1- (Carmel) and No. 4-ranked (Noblesville) teams early in the season, but that has a good chance to make a postseason run.
“Both of those games that we lost we feel like we could've won,” Behringer said. “It doesn't appear there's anybody we can't play with. It's just trying to be ready for the opportunity when it presents itself.”