Girla Final(!) Four Blog and Previewsby Admin on 06/02/22
The 36th girls soccer championships kick off Friday in St. Louis at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park with four championships up for grabs. After 207 games played in the postseason so far, we are down to 16 teams and 16 games left on the schedule.
First, a little history. The girls tournament crowned its first winner in 1985 when Cor Jesu knocked off McCluer North 2-1 in the state final. From 1985-1998, there was only one class of girls soccer, but the girls game continued to grow (not a coincidence was the US Women’s National Team’s electrifying World Cup championship in 1999 and a boom of new high school programs nationally, especially in MO) and a second class was added in 1999. A third class was added in 2008 and the current four-class system began in 2015.
Private schools have dominated the championships over the years, even with the expanded classes. In the current four-class system no public class 1 or 2 team has won a title although that could possibly change this year - especially in class 2, where three of the four teams are public - a likely result of the new Championship Factor shuffling successful private school programs up a class or two. The last four years (not including 2020’s canceled season) have been a little better for public schools with six public school titles out of 16 champions (37.5%), but still the overall championship percentage overwhelming favors private schools (62/77 - 81%).
4 Classes: 18 private, 6 public (75% private)
3 classes: 15 private, 3 public (83% private)
2 classes: 18 private, 3 public (one co-champ year where two teams tied in the final and no OT was played) (86% private)
1 class: 11 private, 3 public (79% private). Note: the first public school girls champion was Oakville’s 1991 squad, coached by the legendary Dave Robben (Missouri’s all-time combined soccer wins leader), who passed away earlier this year.
The quarterfinals were fairly predictable based on the Missouri Power Rankings scores going in. Only Ursuline’s 1-0 win over Notre Dame (STL) was considered an “upset”, but the two teams were virtually dead even (only .02 separated them).
Previews (teams with a higher MPR score will have that score next to them and could be considered the favorite based on the seasonal body of work). MPR rankings in parentheses are from the final regular season MPR):
Three squads make their school’s debut in a girls final four as all four corners of the state get represented this weekend. Mid-Buchanan is the long shot here based on MPR while also being the class 1’s only public school rep. Winning a title this weekend would indeed be historic. Whitfield’s schedule and demanding path have them battle-tested, while Pius and Greenwood (under first year coach Melissa Kuhar) both expected to be in this position based on their paths.
(2) St. Pius (Festus) (13-6-1) (+.08) vs. (4) Greenwood (15-3)
**St. Pius looks to advance to win its second title after winning the 2012 Class 1 championship 3-1 over Principia…The Lancers are making its 5th appearance in a final four, winning one, finishing second once and third twice…Pius has cruised in the playoffs, outscoring opponents 22-0.
**Greenwood makes its first appearance with the girls side in a final four…this year’s seniors started their careers with an 0-10 freshman season…The Blue Jays advanced with a 3-1 win over Crocker.
(3) Whitfield (11-6) (+.43) vs. (8) Mid-Buchanan (15-6)
**Whitfield is also a first-time girls final four squad, finally getting there after years in the shadow of the highly successful boys program…The Warriors road wasn’t easy as a highly competitive district proved demanding but Whitfield (seeded 3rd) eliminated #5 Lutheran St. Charles (2-0) and #1 Villa Duchesne 1-0 to advance…the quarters were a little more comfortable with a 4-0 win over Valley Park.
**Mid-Buchanan reaches its first final four in its second year after taking out Barstow 3-0 in the quarters. The Lady Dragons took out district top seed and #6 Bishop LeBlond 1-0 in that final, avenging a 3-2 loss from earlier in the season.
Statistically, this looks to be the most competitive class of the weekend with both semifinals matching equal squads and razor-thin MPR margins. MICDS will look to continue the private school Class 2 dominance, while the three other public schools all look to break that trend.
(2) Perryville (19-2-1) (+.06) vs. (3) Orchard Farm (19-5-1)
**Perryville plays in its first girls final four and hopes to join the boys 2014 squad as state champs…Jerry Fulton’s team hasn’t lost since back-to-back defeats against Windsor (2-1) and St. Vincent (1-0 2OT) at the end of April…Lady Pirates score in bunches and enter as a slight favorite.
** Orchard Farm makes its second finals weekend appearance after finishing 4th in Class 1 in 2011…this year’s squad has the makings of a potential champ after eliminating last year’s Class 2 runner-up St. Charles 3-2 in the district finals and Southern Boone 3-0 in the quarters.
(7) MICDS (14-6) (+.07) vs. (10) Pleasant Hill (17-5)
**MICDS’ first journey to the final four was a long one after traveling to Logan-Rogersville in the quarters, eliminating them 2-0…a solid schedule should have Jack Fischer’s squad prepared…MICDS will look to join the boys 2020 squad as first-time champs under Fischer…The Rams advanced with a 2-1 2OT thriller over Westminster Christian in the district finals.
**Pleasant Hill makes its fourth consecutive final four appearance and hopes to parlay that experience into its first ever finals, finishing 4th in 2021 and 3rd in 2018 and 2019…the path hasn’t been as easy this time, with three-consecutive one-goal wins, but the Chicks have found a way with a 1-0 win in Maryville punching their ticket to St. Louis after a tense 2-1 OT win over Summit Christian in the district finals.
Ft. Zumwalt South looks to extend its vice grip on Class 3 titles in boys and girls as it tries to defend its 2021 title and match the boys back-to-back runs. Ursuline is the only private school remaining and hope to pull off a rarity - winning back-to-back championships in different classes. The Bears won the 2021 Class 2 title and got bumped to Class 3 this year with the Championship Factor.
(16) Ursuline (10-9) vs. (3) Glendale (20-3) (+.59)
**Ursuline is the Cinderella remaining after upsetting Union 2-1 in the districts and squeaking past Notre Dame (STL) in the quarters 1-0. The Bears started the season 2-6, but righted the ship and enter on a playoff roll…This is Ursuline’s fourth final four, winning one and finishing second twice.
**Glendale plays in its fourth final four under Coach Jeff Rogers, who has crept even closer to 1000 total wins (he’s at 995 coming into the weekend)…Glendale’s biggest challenge so far was a 1-0 win over rival Springfield Catholic in the district finals. Glendale has never won a semifinal in the girls, finishing 4th in 2009 and 2012 and 3rd in 2011…All three losses are to class 4 teams.
Ft. Zumwalt South (24-1) (+.52) vs. (4) Smithville (24-3)
**FZS enters as a the clear Class 3 favorite in its third finals appearance. The Bulldogs fell to Eureka 2-1 April 20, but have since rattled off 13 straight wins under Coach LeAnne Sanders. South beat fellow final four squad Ursuline 4-0 early in the season.
**Smithville held serve and advanced to its third finals under Coach Jon Reed, but the first since 2012’s 4th place finish in Class 2. The Warriors have outscored opponents 23-1 in the playoffs and advanced with a 4-1 win over Smith-Cotton in the quarters.
All eyes will be on the marquee matchup Friday night when two-time defending champ St. Dominic and the state’s only undefeated team Liberty North square off at 7. Several high-flying offensive players will take the stage in this class with several D1 commits headlining the state’s biggest class.
(3) Nerinx Hall (20-2-1) (+.95) vs. (14) Rock Bridge (20-5-1)
**Since losing 2-1 to Incarnate Word April 13, Nerinx has won 15 straight…Nerinx also lost to St. Dominic in the season opener 2-1 in OT, and a rematch is entirely possible in the finals…Coach Brian Haddock’s team got a bit of a breather with a 5-0 win over Jackson in the quarters, but the district path wasn’t as easy in eliminating St. Joseph’s Academy 3-2 OT and Lafayette in the finals 2-1 2OT. This is the Markers’ 9th final four, but only one produced a title - 1988’s 2-1 OT win over Pattonville.
**Rock Bridge advances to its third final four but enters as a clear underdog in the MPR’s biggest discrepancy match…RB went 8-1 down the stretch, losing only to #1 Cor Jesu 3-0 in early May…The Bruins finished 4th in class 3 in 2010 and 3rd in 2000’s Class 2…RB’s defense has been the star as of late and will need to play well again in the final weekend.
(8) St. Dominic (21-3) vs. (2) Liberty North (21-0) (+.62)
**St. Dominic has been rolling over the past decade or so…11 straight playoff appearances and four titles since 2012, six overall and will be making its 10th final four…Coach Greg Koeller will look to lean on a senior class that has only lost five games in its career and seems to be playing its best soccer of the season since a 4-1 loss to Cor Jesu, winning each playoff game by at least two goals, including a 4-0 win over Liberty (Wentzville) in the district finals that avenged an earlier 2-0 loss.
**Liberty North makes its first finals appearance in the best possible way - undefeated after 21 games…The Eagles have had only three matches decided by a goal all season, with a 2-1 OT win over Lee’s Summit North April 12 and a 1-0 win over Incarnate Word April 29 being its toughest matches so far…LN has outscored opponents 18-0 in the playoffs.