Perryville High School girls soccer head coach Jerry Fulton was trying to take the program somewhere they had never been before. The Perryville girls program was trying to reach its first-ever final four.
However, it was not in the cards. Ursuline Academy controlled much of the action and stymied the high-powered Pirate offense as the Bears handed them a 2-0 defeat on Saturday at the Bank of Missouri Soccer Complex.
It’s the first state semifinal appearance for Ursuline since 2011 and just the third in school history.
They will play Pleasant Hill later this week. For Fulton and his team, it was a sour way to end a fantastic season.
“There is only one way to end a season without feeling like this and that’s to win it all,” he said. “I’ve only done that once in my coaching career and it was an amazing feeling. I was hoping to share that with this group. Ursuline came prepared and they played a very good game.”
Ursuline got goals from MaryClaire Imig and Natalie Druger, one in each half, as the Bears created pressure from the opening kickoff.
It was a struggle for Perryville, which was able to generate more and 100 goals this year to create any offense and sustain possession.
The Bears focused much of their defensive strategy around stopping Perryville senior Leah Buerck, who ended the season with a school record 45 goals this year.
“They man-marked Leah the whole game with a single defender,” Fulton said. “I backed Leah off to midfield to see if that could open up the field and some space and unfortunately, that didn’t happen, either. Ursuline was good at getting that first ball, but also the second and third. That is what really hurt us because we were not able to possess the ball for long periods of time.”
Perryville was outshot 13-2 in the game and was kept in the game early by senior goalkeeper Adrienne Weibrecht, who collected 10 saves on the day. The Bears pressured the Perryville back line early as they pelted the goal with three shots in the first seven minutes. Weibrecht made a diving save on a deflected shot in the 10th minute. Fulton noted that Weibrecht kept his team in the game, while they tried to find their footing.
“She had a great game,” Fulton said of his goalkeeper. “The goals they got were good shots on goal and I don’t think she could have stopped either of them. She was the reason we were in the game for as long as we were.”
Perryville’s best chance at a goal came in the 20th minute when Delainey Kaempfe shot wide on a corner and Leah Buerck was taken down minutes after on the edge of the box.
“I would have liked to get that call there, on that play, but the referees did not see it that way,” Fulton said. “If we could have scored early it would have taken the pressure off us and calm us down a little.”
It wasn’t until Imig got behind the back line in the 36th minute to give the Bears a 1-0 advantage. The Bears scored eight minutes into the second half for the final margin.
“I thought we were still in the game going into halftime, and had a chance,” Fulton said. “however, after that second goal went in, it deflated us a little. Although we never quit.”
Perryville ended the season at 17-5-1 and reached the quarterfinal for the first time in school history.
“This was a special group and you have to remember that we played a lot of young girls this year,” Fulton said. “We did something that had only been done in school history twice. We will come back and make another run at it.”