Dan Roggelin has two words to say when asked if he expected Cardinal Stritch’s girls’ soccer team to be this good, this fast.
“Absolutely not,” said Roggelin, in his 14th year as the Cardinals’ coach.
Roggelin didn’t know what to make of his roster in July, when he realized he had 14 new players coming in. Stritch finished 4-11-1 last season.
“I graduated a lot, and we had five returning freshmen coming back as sophomores,” Roggelin said. “I had one three-year junior and one two-year senior.”
|It appears as if Cardinal Stritch Catholic sophomore Kama
Hardy is doing a balancing act with the soccer ball. (Press
phote by Doug Karns/KateriSchools.org)
The Cardinals entered a preseason tournament in Bowling Green and played well, despite losses to Swanton and Miami East, both regional qualifiers last season, and Miami East.
“Talk about jelling quickly,” Roggelin said. “It was a very fun weekend in BG. We changed up our offense halfway through the tournament because I saw the speed we had, and it worked very well for us.”
Stritch lost two of its first three regular-season games, to Whitmer and Delta, before reeling off seven straight wins. The Cardinals finished 12-3-1 in the regular season and tied Ottawa Hills for the inaugural Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship, both with 4-1-1 TAAC records.
The Cardinals beat Ottawa Hills, 5-4, on Oct. 12 in the sectional tournament opener. Stritch, which has outscored opponents 78-25, advanced to play Oak Harbor on Saturday at Genoa for the right to advance to the district tournament.
“For them to be playing this well and jell this well as a team, it’s been absolutely fantastic to coach them,” Roggelin said. “I have a lot of speed that I haven’t had in the past, and a lot of experience and knowledge of the game. I have kids who can play soccer.”
Junior Sarah Wamer, who transferred from Lake after her freshman year and sat out last season, and fellow midfielder Kama Hardy both scored two goals in the tourney win over Ottawa Hills. Sophomore midfielder/forward Kali Hardy, who is Kama’s cousin, had the other goal.
Kama Hardy leads the team in goals (37) and assists (12).
“She not only looks to score, but she gives other people the opportunity to score also,” Roggelin said. “She knows that if she’s marked, somebody is going to be open. She’s quiet, but when she’s out there talking, the kids are listening. She’s one of my captains and the person I would call the leader of the team.”
Wamer is second on the team with 16 goals and nine assists.
“She fit into the team very well and is another one of my captains,” Roggelin said. “The kids listen to her and she’s done a great job. She’s (built) solid and is quick enough — not lightening fast but she has good foot skills and is very coachable. Most of the team is that way. I’m blessed with a team that when you tell them to do something, they do it.”
Caitlyn Amborski, a freshman forward, has nine goals and seven assists, while Kali Hardy has seven goals and six assists.
“Kali has struggled this year with injuries to her leg, but she’s done very well,” Roggelin said. “She’s quiet but aggressive, and she knows the game well. She’s afraid of nothing. Last year she tied Kama for the team lead in scoring.”
Junior third-year player Cecelia Gozdowski, a team captain, “runs the defense,” according to Roggelin, while sophomore keeper Sydnie Rodriguez has 169 saves and an 89 percent save percentage, with seven shutouts.
“She has done a huge job this year as far a making the right decision,” Roggelin said. “She has done a fantastic job back there as our goalkeeper and is in charge of the specialty plays.”
Some of the Cardinals’ other top players include senior defender Annureet Mangat, sophomore midfielder Jettie Moore, sophomore utility player Kirsten Aldrich, sophomore defender Abbie Reichert and freshman defender Jami Hardy.
This year’s squad will graduate just three seniors, only one of whom starts, giving Roggelin plenty of optimism for next year and beyond.
“This year has been a lot of fun,” he said. “This team is going to be just as strong next year. I’m looking forward to the future with this group. Kids will be fighting for positions next year, which is a nice position to be in.”