Coming off their first-ever 4A playoff appearance in 2001, the HRV girls soccer team wanted nothing more than to take their accomplishments to the next level in 2002.
Armed with a roster of 10 seniors, including one of the best players in the state, Becca Meierbachtol, the Eagles finished the regular season unbeaten (9-0-5, second place in the Intermountain Conference), and were poised to make a run at the school’s first-ever playoff win.
It took nearly two hours to complete, but on Nov. 2, the HRV soccer girls achieved their goal in dramatic fashion, beating a battle-tested Westview club, 3-2, on penalty kicks to advance to the second round.
“We were all so excited,” said Meierbachtol, who battled injury late in the season, but still emerged as the Conference Player of the Year and the team’s second-leading scorer (12 goals).
“This is the best our program has ever done, and it’s an amazing feeling. It would have been great to win another game, but we still felt like the season was a success.”
And the team had everyone to thank — not just the seniors.
Junior Acer Lopez, a first-team all-conference selection, led the Eagles with 16 goals, and will make her own run at Conference Player of the Year in 2003. Junior Lisa Tedford, also an IMC first-teamer, was one of HRV’s steadiest defenders, and will be a team leader next season.
Likewise, junior Anna Hidle will be a major contributor next year. She had a rock-solid second half of the season, and earned all-conference honorable mention after filling in for Meierbachtol at center midfield for five games.
Freshman Jessica McMorran also had a superb 2002 campaign, scoring three of the Eagles’ 53 goals this season. The multi-tooled midfielder is one of four full-time varsity returnees for next year.
But the transition doesn’t figure to be an easy one for coach Sue Farro and her team. While the Eagles have plenty to build on at the younger ranks — players like Emily Sager, Emily McCallum, Rose Brunk, Diana Hernandez and Kelly Durkan — they still have to make up for the loss of their senior core.
Four-fifths of the defense will be graduating (Elie Meierbachtol, Candice Hoag, Jodie Gates and goalkeeper Becki Flory), along with three of four starting midfielders (Becca Meierbachtol, Lindsay McClure and Jenny Villagomez). Starting forward Jazzy Cohen and reserves Brittany Reed and Ruby Brunk will also hang up their cleats.
“It would be hard to top this season,” Farro said. “We had so much fun together and really bonded as the year went on. I’m sad to lose so many players, but we have enough talent to stay near the top next year.”