CHS’ Italiano a true ’keeper, voted first-team all-MEC, all-district
Soccer netminder joined by Reeter, Barnett on conference first team
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
After another outstanding season – this time a third-consecutive 15-victories campaign in Jimmy Chapman’s debut season as head coach, numerous members of the Chillicothe High School soccer Lady Hornets have received postseason recognition and some could be in line to have more.
With the Midland Empire Conference’s two teams which qualified for state-tournament play – Maryville in Class 2 and St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond in Class 1 – having lost their first-round state matches last weekend, the conclusion of MEC competition has triggered the release of the very strong league’s all-conference teams for 2021.
With the conference having had not only the two state-qualifying teams, but also undefeated conference champion Kansas City: St. Pius X, which – because of its history of postseason success – was assigned to Class 3 against much-larger schools and lost in its district semifinal to still-playing Platte County, competition for all-league berths was intense and thus carries extra sheen for those selected.
Chillicothe had three players – all juniors – voted by opposing coaches to the first-team: Lucy Reeter, record-smashing forward, middle back Ellie Barnett, and standout goalkeeper Allie Italiano.
Two teammates – senior midfielder Julia Stimpson and junior inside back Sophia Luetticke – gained second-team all-conference berths.
Receiving honorable mention were another quartet of Lady Hornets, meaning nine of the 11 lineup regulars were recognized by the opposing coaches as among the best players in the strong loop.
Those receiving votes for the all-MEC squad and included in the honorable-mention ranks were senior forward Allison Ishmael, junior forward Juliann Gabrielson, senior inside back Hannah Dominique, and junior midfielder Makayla Vance.
The all-MEC announcement follows the disclosure during the Lady Hornets’ recent postseason get-together of CHS team members who were included on the Class 2 all-District 8 Tournament squad.
The all-district squad, which involved pre-slotted recognition of certain numbers of players (based on their team’s finish in the tourney) from each of the seven teams which competed in the District 8 tournament played in Chillicothe. The criteria was players’ performances during the tournament, not – as the state’s high school basketball coaches do – players’ full-season performances, but grouped by their district-tournament assignment.
Under guidelines set by the state’s high school soccer coaches’ association, as runnerup, the Lady Hornets had three players named to the all-district first team, three to the second team, and two given honorable mention.
The CHS trio of first-team selections, in voting done by the seven head coaches, was forward Ishmael, back Luetticke, and goalkeeper Italiano.
Voted second-team were three more 11th graders – forward Reeter, midfielder Vance, and back Barnett.
Rounding out the Chillicothe choices were midfielder Stimpson and back Dominique.
The Lady Hornets surrendered only two goals, posting two shutout wins, in their three district matches, underscoring why all three of their center/inside backs and goalkeeper were honored. Luetticke also scored two goals in the tournament.
Ishmael, completing a solid senior season after suffering a severe knee injury late in her sophomore year and then having her junior year canceled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, netted a team-leading three goals in the district tourney.
Double first-teamer Italiano starred in goal all season, posting a 15-7 record and having a couple of matches in which she made in excess of 20 saves. At the other end of the spectrum, the transfer also had three matches in which the opponent did not get a shot on goal.
All told, she and the team earned credit a dozen shutouts (one eventually turned into a penalty-kicks-shootout 1-0 loss), equaling the 2017 squad for second-most in a season to the 2018 club’s 15.
Italiano also put an unprecedented dollop of whipped cream atop her season performance when, in the final minute of a late-season match at Kirksville, with Chillicothe trailing 1-0, she was sent all the way to the Kirksville penalty area to possibly be in position to receive Reeter’s corner kick. In fact, the ball sailed right to her in front of the KHS goal and, with a leaping header, she scored to force the match to overtime, where CHS won.
While Italiano and the defensive players neared a team record in the fortress they built around the Chillicothe goal, Reeter was shattering every Lady Hornets scoring record she could as she and her attacking teammates riddled many an opponent’s goal with tallies.
When the final whistle of the season sounded, Reeter had posted the most goals in a CHS season (28) and a match (6), as well as the most assists in a season (21) and match (4). Her “points” total (combined goals and assists, with goals worth two points) of 77 smashed Lindy Saunders’ previous mark of 64.
The only Lady Hornets scoring record the junior does not own is for career goals. While she has 47 in two seasons, the COVID-19 cancellation of what would have been her sophomore campaign virtually assures she will not threaten Saunders’ 4-seasons total of 89.
All-MEC first-team back Barnett used her height and speed to effectively play something of a modified “sweeper” role on the back line, hanging back as an extra layer of support in front of Italiano as inside backs Luetticke and Dominique challenged oncoming attackers.
However, Barnett, like Luetticke used effectively as a tall target in the opposition “18” on corner kicks, did produce one goal and two assists in that capacity.