It isn’t often a high school athlete can say they had the chance to start every game their freshman year.

But St. Teresa’s girls soccer has a group which is entering its fourth year of starting: Amy and Ann Duncan, Stephanie Ganley, Madison Mooney and Maranda Archer. Add in Molly Davis, who joined and started in her sophomore season, and St. Teresa’s experience on the field rivals just about anyone in the area.

Heading into postseason play, the Bulldogs carry a 10-6-1 record and the No.

2-seed in the Warrensburg Regional.

That’s a drastic difference between St. T soccer now and three years ago. There was a reason five freshmen started on that team — they had to.

“Freshman year, we had one senior and two juniors and two sophomores,” Ganley said. “So we had to be leaders as freshmen and sophomores.”

“There was even a game where we played down a player.”

Although they had a disappointing 4-12 freshman season, it provided a foundation to learn from and improve upon. While positions and roles have changed, the season where they were beat down didn’t deter them from staying.

Three years later, they’re all still with the team — this time on the more encouraging side of the win-loss column.

Now soccer is enjoying the success other girls sports at St. Teresa already enjoy. But there is a difference between their counterparts participating in volleyball, basketball or cross country.

“It means business, and there’s no laughing and everything is serious,” Ganley said. “In soccer, our team is based around having fun. I think that’s why we bond so well.”

They all immediately point to their coach, Chris Kerwood, as the reason they’ve been able to keep a lively and fun environment.

It’s brought in a deeper team as well. St. T has gone from a team struggling to field enough players for a team to one that can scrimmage a full game.

“We did not have that freshman year,” Mooney said, “so it’s a luxury to have that now where we can sit for two minutes rather than play 80 minutes straight.”

After playing for four years, players tend to switch positions now and then. Having six players with that knowledge of most positions has helped them and the generation coming up as well.

“Every time someone new comes on the field, it’s ‘You got to help me with this position.’ We’re all like, ‘We got you, it’s no big deal,’ ” Archer said.

“Actually, yesterday, I was pulled back to defensive mid and I had no idea what I was doing,” Amy Duncan added, “but thankfully Maranda knew what she was doing and helped me out a lot.”

It’s allowed St. Teresa to change formations when needed — which the Bulldogs admit happens often. And while there may be leaders statistically, it’s a group mentality when it comes to leading by example.

“I think when we voted for captains this year, every single senior got at least four votes, so I think that says a lot about us and how our leadership is,” Mooney said. “It’s noticeable between us and between everyone else on the field.”

Now, there’s the matter of taking those good vibes and translating it into postseason success. Entering their fourth year, these Bulldogs are 2-3 in the playoffs and haven’t won a regional championship … yet.

“Practice has gotten a little more serious this year than in the past,” Archer said. “Not super dead serious, but I think we all as seniors know this is our last year.”

“That’s the focal point of every single game,” Mooney added. “Every single halftime, (Kerwood’s) like, ‘This is the beginning. We have to work toward that goal. That trophy’s the goal.’ ”

adow@herald-review.com|(217) 421-6978

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