Kieffer repeats as second-team Class 2 goalkeeper, Dowell gains honorable mention as back after most-successful Lady Hornets season in history
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — While the final match – their second-ever in state tournament competition – was played nearly a month ago, the 2019 Chillicothe High School soccer Lady Hornets’ most-successful season in history technically reached its climax only recently with the announcement that two 2018-19 seniors on the team had been included by the Missouri High School Soccer Coaches Association’s Class 2 All-State teams.
For a second-consecutive year, records-smashing goalkeeper Kennedie Kieffer was voted to the MHSSCA’s second team, while inside back Devin Dowell was given honorable mention. Their inclusion followed their prior selection, along with classmate and inside back Sydney Baxter, as MHSSCA all-district and all-region players for the 2019 campaign.
In addition, two fellow 2019 CHS graduates – outside back Kaylee Lewis and forward Maggie Pfaff – combined on-field and in-classroom excellence at a level which led to them being honored with Academic All-State status by the association.
Those final honors capped a bevy of postseason honors Lady Hornets reaped as a result of their superb 17-5, district-championship 2019 season.
As previously reported, eight CHS players previously were selected MHSSCA all-district (from among the four teams which competed in the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s (MSHSAA) Class 2 District 15 tournament) for their season-long play and 10 Lady Hornets booters were accorded some level of all-Midland Empire Conference recognition for their stalwart regular-season showings.
In addition to the aforementioned Baxter, Kieffer, and Dowell, senior forward Sarah Graves was a first-team all-district choice. Honorable-mention all-district were 2018-19 seniors Elli Ross (outside back), Addie Ficken (defensive midfielder), and Pfaff and freshman Lucy Reeter (forward).
All eight of them were honored by MEC coaches, along with Lewis, junior outside midfielder Magy Thomas, and freshman outside midfielder Allison Ishmael. Kieffer, Ficken, and Dowell were first-team all-league, Reeter, Graves, and Baxter second-team, and Ross, Lewis, Pfaff, Thomas, and Ishmael honorable mention for their roles in helping Chillicothe tie for second place in the 8-teams conference, which produced three MSHSAA Class 2 district champions.
Kieffer, the Lady Hornets’ towering (6’1”), but agile and aggressive, “last line of defense” from her sophomore season on, after playing extensively as a back as a freshman, surrendered only 11 goals while playing in net every second of all 22 matches during her final prep year.
In doing so, with tremendous help from the all-senior backfield directly in front of her and the overall play of the entire squad, she gained credit for 16 shutouts in 2019, eclipsing her program record of 12 set a year before.
Likewise, the 2019 team established new team marks with those 16 whitewashes and only 11 goals allowed, surpassing the standards the 2018 squad had put in the books.
Both Kieffer and the team as a whole established what is likely to be two other long-standing goal-prevention records. Prior to the 2-0 state-tournament loss to Maryville, they won 7-consecutive matches by shutout, simultaneously compiling a stretch of 635 minutes without allowing a goal.
Combined with five she earned as a sophomore before missing about a month with an injury, Kieffer – headed to North Central Missouri College at Trenton on a basketball scholarship, but who certainly would have received many offers to play college soccer, bowed out with a Lady Hornets record 33 career shutouts, nearly doubling the record of 18 set by her predecessor, Jaylene Sturguess.
Dowell’s state-level honor sends her off to a collegiate career on the pitch, having signed prior to the season with Stephens College of Columbia, after a versatile high school career which suggests plenty of playing time in her future.
A starting and accomplished back and defensive midfielder her sophomore year – earning honorable-mention all-MEC status at midfield, she spent time as both a defensive and attacking midfielder as a junior and scored three goals, while also earning two assists.
With the departure through graduation of one of 2018’s inside backs, the return to health of forward Pfaff, and the addition and development of several underclassmen in the midfield and forward spots, Dowell was plugged in, full-time, as a back for her senior year.
At that spot, with “stay-at-home” defenders Ross, Lewis, and Baxter and Kieffer as a “security blanket,” she provided the team with its quickest, most-nimble, and most-aggressive defender, often helping derail opponents’ building attacks and counterattacks before they got deep into Chillicothe’s end of the pitch, while also cutting off potential threats near the CHS “18” with her quickness and foot skills.
Dowell also provided quick counterattacking potential for Chillicothe, using her speed and dribbling ability to exploit open space off foes’ turnovers or to trigger CHS rushes with long passes upfield.
All-region choice Baxter, a honorable-mention All-State selection the year before, not only provided very steady, conservative inside defensive coverage to compliment Dowell’s more-free-wheeling tactics, but also an outstanding weapon on “set pieces” off free kicks and corner kicks.
In those roles, particularly off corner kicks, she earned seven assists, tying for the second-most on the team with Reeter behind Graves’ 10.
As attested by their won-lost record and on-field achievements and recognized by the breadth of their postseason honors, the senior-laden 2019 soccer Lady Hornets were a well-rounded squad.
In addition to their extreme success in keeping opponents off the scoreboard, the team had well-balanced offensive potency.
For the first time in the program’s 13-seasons history, three players – Reeter (19), Graves (17), and Pfaff (10) – had double-digits goals totals and Reeter and Graves were the first pair to surpass 15 goals in the same season.
Completing her excellent, though injury-hampered, Lady Hornets career, Graves used a strong finish to the spring to depart with 41 career goals, tied with former teammate Karson Keithley for third-most in CHS girls’ soccer history behind Lindy Saunders and Rochelle Gillilan.
Meanwhile, starting her promising days on the Chillicothe pitch, Reeter combined her skill, speed, and tenacity to fire home a team-leading 19 goals, breaking Saunders’ 2012 freshman record of 14.