Players we missed on the pitch

Soccer season was lost due to coronavirus shutdown

Union photo by Doug Brenneman

Washington High School goalkeeper Olivia Pacha was named to the Des Moines Register’s 2019 All-Iowa girls soccer team for Class 2A. Pacha made 216 saves last season for the Demons as a junior.
Union photo by Doug Brenneman Washington High School goalkeeper Olivia Pacha was named to the Des Moines Register’s 2019 All-Iowa girls soccer team for Class 2A. Pacha made 216 saves last season for the Demons as a junior.

The high school soccer season was kicked away by the threat of the coronavirus.

The local pitch would have seen some stellar girls performances but the fields remain empty.

The Union would like to highlight some seniors who may have excelled this season.

Some local teams had high hopes for the season including Washington, which flourished under new coach Protacio Marcelino. While the girls excelled under a first-year coach last year, that was to be the hope again this season as Steven Caulk replaces Protacio Marcelino.

Mt. Pleasant was the class of the Southeast Conference, finishing with a 13-5 record, 6-2 in the league.

Fairfield went 5-3 in the SEC and was 7-7 overall.

Mid-Prairie, which shared with Iowa Mennonite School (now Hillcrest Academy) last year, started its season with a 2-3 mark then reeled off eight straight victories before losing the first postseason game to finish the year at 10-4.

Columbus, which shares the program with Winfield-Mt. Union, played its season at even par, finishing with a mark of 7-7 after going 4-9 in 2018.

Olivia Pacha, goalkeeper, Washington

Pacha was recognized by the Des Moines Register last year for her ability to defend the net as the goalkeeper. Washington ruled the Southeast Conference goals with a save percentage of 91.5 percent while second place was 85. There wasn’t a single senior on the Washington roster last year, so it stands to reason there would be a lot of eager players this year and that would have meant an outstanding slate of matches.

Washington broke a three-year losing streak in 2018 under previous coach Callyn Mason, then started the 2019 season with a 5-1 record before finishing 8-9. During that streak to open the season, the Demons outscored their opponents 27-6. In Southeast Conference action, the Demons swept Keokuk last year but were swept by Ft. Madison and split with both Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield.

Pacha classmates Brandi Moreno, Narely Torrijos, Abby Voss, Samantha Farmer, Lupita De la Rosa, Halle Leyden and Megan Case are also missing their senior season of soccer.

Kaela Welcher, forward, Mt. Pleasant

Welcher would have been the only returning Panther with double-digit points from last season. With leading returning scorer Sydney Doak going out for track, Welcher would have had an even bigger role on the Panther squad this year than she already would have had.

Welcher put up five goals and one assist last year. She put 22 shots on goal, third highest on the team, and finished with a .152 shot percentage.

She was set to be joined by Amber Fiedler and Virginia Scandridge in the field, and the Panthers would have also returned goalkeeper Ayden Ross, who 79 saves in 2019.

The Panthers did lose a few key seniors but would have returned the bulk of their young team, which won the SEC last year.

Emily McAvan, forward, Fairfield

Nobody scored more for the Fairfield girls in 2019 than Emily McAvan. The Trojans’ leading scorer finished tied in the SEC for fourth, with 32 points in 2019, scoring 14 goals and dishing out four assists.

McAvan exploded in early May last season, scoring eight goals over a two-game stretch against Centerville and Keokuk. That sparked a four-game winning streak that took the Trojans from a 3-6 record to 7-6, before Fairfield was eventually ousted in the postseason.

The Trojans were set up for a big senior day in 2020, boasting double-digit seniors if everyone returned from last year’s squad.

Fairfield will sorely miss McAvan, as well as its other seniors; Mahayla Mellott, Avery Yates, Tea Harris, Eleanor Brown, Hannah Lyons, Isabel Allen, Devika Pharisi, Erica Olson, Katie McLain, Korynn Dickey and Tessa Seibert, when the 2021 season rolls around.

Elizabeth Baker, forward, Mid-Prairie

Baker was the fourth leading scorer for the Golden Hawks last year behind three freshmen — Julia Boller, Ester Hughes and Kaitlyn Martin. It would have been an offensive juggernaught for opponents to have to defend.

Baker had nine goals and two assists last season as Mid-Prairie outscored its opponents 60-36.

Baker was All-State Academic honorable mention forward last season by the Iowa High School Soccer Coaches Association.

Other juniors on last year’s team missing their senior season are Caitlyn Riggan, Isabella Conchola, Ingrid Gingerich, Jordan Hammen, Aubrey Fray, Siti Nurhaliza Abd. Kadir and Altynai Kabylbekova.

Elizabeth Santos, forward, Columbus

Santos was one of five juniors on the Wildcats roster last season along with Emily Hernandez, Daniela Cruz, Nayeli Martinez and Ingrid Moreno.

Santos scored six points last season on four assists and a goal. She was also 1-for-3 on penalty kicks.