Maryville boys soccer has used this fall to rewrite the program’s history, and the Spoofhounds plan to continue doing just that.
With a 1-0 win against No. 2-ranked Smithton Nov. 13, the Spoofhounds (15-5-1) advanced to the state semifinals for the program’s first ever trip to the final four, led by another shutout performance by sophomore goalkeeper Jaxson Staples.
The defensive battle’s 0-0 tie was broken with nearly five minutes left in the second half, when senior midfielder James DiStefano dished an assist to senior forward Jacob Ferris to seal the win for the ‘Hounds.
“Just knowing, like, all the hard work we put in, it was so nice to see (the ball) go in,” Ferris said. “I keep replaying it in my head over and over — the ball just slowly rolling into the goal and then running up to my teammates and celebrating it.”
“At first I couldn’t believe it,” senior midfielder Andrew Cronk said. “It was just kind of a blur with people screaming and yelling at me.”
With Maryville winning seven of its previous eight matches — the lone loss being against LeBlond Oct. 26 with no starters playing —
some consider them to be the hottest team in Class 1.
The Spoofhounds’ hot streak is led by four seniors, including Cronk, DiStefano and Ferris, along with fellow senior defender Teagan Haer, who made his return to the starting lineup against Smithton from an ankle injury suffered in the Excelsior Tournament Sept. 7-11.
Through grit and adversity, the ‘Hounds have prevailed through their past two matchups with a pair of 1-point victories in each.
“There were definitely moments (against Smithton) that, as a senior, if I wanted something to happen, I needed to step up. Or any of our seniors had to step up and make a play, and that’s what we’ve been doing during this postseason,” DiStefano said. “I feel like, especially the past two games, we’ve been off. But somebody stepped up and made a play, and that’s what sends us on to the next round.”
“We’re kind of the leaders, but we try to lead by example, too,” Haer said. “We try to be leaders and show them how it’s done, but also get along with them and be their friends.”
This group of seniors has been playing together since they were all six years old, and the chemistry between them shows on and off the field. They’ve made history twice already with the program’s first conference title in 20 years and taking the team to the final four.
They’re hungry for more, though.
“It’s really awesome. Hopefully, this is a new page in soccer for us,” Cronk said. “Hopefully, we can show that we are a good program and we belong in the final four more often. Hopefully, even further than that.”
“It’d mean a lot. I mean, state is state,” Ferris said. “It’d be great to just go that far and win it. If we go all the way, we have to win it. Just to be able to tell people, ‘We won state,’ would be awesome.”
The Spoofhounds kick off the final four with a matchup against Lutheran St. Charles (20-5-1) at noon Nov. 19 at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton, Missouri. It’s simple from here on out. If the ‘Hounds win, they play for first Nov. 20 in the same location against the winner of St. Pius X (17-6) and Fair Grove (15-8). Should Maryville lose, it will play the loser of the same game in Fenton.
Whether the Spoofhounds come out first or fourth, they have made their school and community proud, and these four seniors know it.
“It would just be disappointing, but I’m happy where we are,” Ferris said. “I keep on telling people, ‘I’m really happy right now.’ But we still have two more games to go, and we will see what happens.”
“It wouldn’t be what we wanted, but I wouldn’t consider it a failure,” DiStefano said. “Earlier in the year, we got papers that said, ‘What’s our goal for the season?’ And I put, ‘Make it to state.’ And now here we are — two games away from winning the whole thing.”