After three straight losing seasons, Charleston soccer has reason to be hopeful.
With a reloaded roster, including both of the team’s top goal scorers and an All-Sectional defensive player, the Charleston High School girls’ soccer team has a chance to finish with its first winning season since 2018.
Senior Delaney Meister, a second-team All-Apollo selection and all-sectional defensive player returns to a team that went 5-11-2 last year. So does sophomore Hadley Webb, who led the Trojans in scoring and tied for the most goals scored.
“Delaney and Hadley have both worked super hard over the offseason and grown tremendously,” said assistant coach Ben Tresslar, who has been filling in as the team’s head coach while head coach Ali Gowin has been out on maternity leave. “They’ve been leading by example, and we’ve seen a lot of improvement as a team because of how hard they push themselves and others both in practice and on their own.”
Webb and junior Ella Garrett both scored 11 goals. Webb led the team in total points with 24, two more than Garrett. Garrett had led the team in scoring as a freshman.
“Ella has continued to refine her skills through club soccer and practice throughout the offseason,” said Tresslar. “Coming off of a season where she led the team in goals, she understands that she’s going to be the primary focus for opposing defenses and that she may have to find other ways of impacting the game outside of scoring. We think she’ll continue to be an imposing presence up top, and we’re excited to see her growth.”
CHS ’22 leading scorers
Ally Logsdon has already had several solid games early this season – shutting down several breakaway goals in a scoreless tie against Champaign Central a week ago and she made two more in helping CHS win its opener, 2-1, in the St. Teresa Tournament opener two weeks ago. So it appears she has healed from an injury during the basketball season. Logsdon, a junior, made 111 saves last season, 7.4 per game, and had four shutouts.
The team is currently 1-1-1 heading into its games this week.
“Ally has been awesome,” said Tresslar. “She brings so much energy every day, and she has really stepped up as a leader on our team. Ally is really quick and has a ton of confidence, both of which are huge strengths to have in goal. We’ve been tweaking her style of play to better fit her strengths this year, and we think she’s going to continue to have a huge impact in games.”
In front of Logsdon on defense will be Meister and senior Shelby Herrington. Sophomore Anny Logsdon received time on the field as a freshman last season, while Alli Buerskens should also see time defensively.
“Delaney and Shelby are the heart and soul of not only our defense, but our team as a whole,” said Tresslar. “Both are captains, and their leadership has been invaluable. They do so many great things that won’t show up in the box score, but they are going to be an integral part of our team this year. Anny and Alli have also really stepped up. Anny got a lot of experience last year, and she continues to look more and more comfortable on the field. Alli primarily played as a forward last year, but we thought she would fit in well with our defense. She’s been a natural fit and it’s been really cool to see how much she improves as she becomes more comfortable with the position. With these four on the field, we feel really good about our defense.”
Tresslar is hopeful that Malia Hodges can take a step forward this season to take scoring pressure off Webb and Garrett. Hodges, a senior forward, scored three goals in 11 games last season. She splits time between soccer and track.
“Hadley and Ella proved that they can put the ball in the net last year, and we expect more of the same from them,” said Tresslar. “Malia has improved greatly with the ball at her feet, and she’s ready to find the goal this year. She’s definitely going to be another threat up top.”
Sophomore Mia Hinds will patrol the midfield, who played every game last season as a freshman. Senior Jordyn Kieffer, Tresslar says, has also improved a great deal.
’22 Apollo standings
“Mia had an impressive freshman season, and she has improved more than we could’ve hoped,” said Tresslar. “She put in a ton of work in the offseason, and she’s taken a huge step forward this season. We think she’s going to have a breakout year. Jordyn is one of our captains and her leadership has been huge. She is great with the ball at her feet, and she has been a calming presence for us in the midfield. Jordyn is another player who clearly put in a lot of work in the offseason, and she is ready to have a great year”
Charleston finished fourth in the Apollo Conference last year at 2-6-2. While other teams like Mahomet-Seymour and Mattoon have reloaded, Tresslar believes the Trojans are going to shock some teams this season.
“Ali and I have talked a lot about how this is a special group of girls, and we have high expectations going into the season,” Tresslar said. “We have a lot of young players that got some experience last year and are ready to take it to the next level. We’ve also been really impressed with the group of freshmen coming in, and there are a number of them who could see some varsity time this year. We’re confident that we can compete with anybody, and we think we’re going to surprise some teams in the conference this year.”