Highland girls soccer closes regular season with win over Jerseyville, loss to Waterloo
Steady improvement has been the Highland girls soccer team’s motto throughout the 2023 campaign and the Bulldogs lived up to that mantra again last week.
HHS closed the regular season with a thrilling 3-2 Senior Night win at Highland High School on Tuesday, May 2, and a road loss at Waterloo on Thursday, May 4.
Highland coach Daniel Podwojski believes his club has made significant and steady progress this spring as the Bulldogs head into the IHSA Class 3A regional at Triad High School next week with a 6-11-2 record.
“I think as I said earlier this season we’ve shown marked improvement game after game,” Podwojksi said.
In the Senior Night home finale against Mississippi Valley Conference foe Jerseyville, Highland battled the Panthers in a tight first half as goals from Payton Frey and Madison Emig offset two goals by Jerseyville’s Kaelyn Drainer. And the clubs went to the halftime break tied at 2-2.
Just under 20 minutes into the second half, Highland’s Payton Beard scored a goal and the Bulldogs defense and goalie Sophia Fleming made it stand up for a thrilling one-goal win.
“In that game, we started off doing well and Jerseyville responded right back at us so at halftime we were able to sit down and reformulate and energize together a game plan. And we were able to work on that and it ended up with us getting that goal in the second half, so it was definitely a team effort — working together and just wanting to come out and do well,” Podwojski said.
Two days later, the Bulldogs fell 10-0 at MVC rival Waterloo to end the regular season but after winning just three games in 2022, Podwojski said he feels this version of the Bulldogs has vastly improved over last season.
The biggest improvement has been on offense for HHS. Highland has three players with seven goals or more as Alyson Pace (10 goals), Frey (eight goals), and Beard (seven goals) have had strong seasons. Maddie Molitor also has been a steady contributor with six goals.
”Frey, and Pace, and Beard ... our entire offense works together,” Podwojski said. “Peyton Frey and Alyson Pace are our big goal-scorers, but I don’t want to discount our defense ... our goalie, Sophia Fleming is just a rock star and Lola Schlarman has gone into that center-back position and really allowed a player like Peyton Frey to step up and into that offensive player role and utilize her in different positions.”
Next up: Postseason for Bulldogs
Next Tuesday, May 16, HHS travels to Triad to face Mascoutah in the regional semifinals as Highland looks to break through after losing to the Indians 3-0 and 2-0 during the regular season. Podwojski believes his club will be ready for the challenge.
“I think it’s definitely a possibility because Mascoutah is a great team and a team we can compete with. I think taking what we’ve learned playing against these teams in our conference and other great teams, we’re gonna take that and apply it to that Mascoutah game. I know the team is excited and ready to do that in regionals,” Podwojski said. “We’re all ready to take the field.”