Notre Dame -- should it be here?
There were those before the season who wrote off the 2012 Notre Dame girls' soccer team. Questions loomed as to how the pieces would jell as a large senior class was to be intertwined with young newcomers.
The answer 18 matches later? Pretty well.
The third-ranked Lady Irish (11-2-5) are in the conversation for favorites heading into today's Class A/AA state quarterfinal against White House. The senior class has welcomed young players such as freshmen Blair Barker and Hannah Dearing, who have impacted the program with their play.
"It's a huge thing to make it to state," Notre Dame coach Jim Schermerhorn said. "State is always a team goal, and to get through our district and region, the team's confidence is high. There's a sense that if we could get this far, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
"We've had a good record, but we've also played well, and the team has a good idea how things go. They battle early on, but we have a good young core and I'm pleased with how things have gone."
GPS has had to watch its chief rival, Baylor, celebrate Division II-AA state championships on the GPS field the last two years. The Bruisers haven't even been in the state semifinals since 2006, but this year they're in and haven't lost in 15 games.
State No. 2 GPS, in fact, is the highest ranked team in the II-AA final four, after St. Agnes lost in the quarterfinals. And the Bruisers have only three seniors on their 21-player roster heading into Friday's semifinal against Harpeth Hall.
Freshmen Akia Harris and Keyle Snyder lead GPS in scoring with eight and seven goals and are tied with nine assists apiece.
Injuries have plagued Soddy-Daisy at times this season, but the Lady Trojans never lost their ability to score goals. Ranked sixth in Class AAA, they have scored 85 heading into their state quarterfinal against top-ranked Farragut at 4 p.m. today at Baylor.
Despite missing four matches midway through the year, Summer Lanter has 32 goals and 17 assists. Some of her slack was picked up by junior Miranda Smith (20 goals, 23 assists) as well as junior Megan Weller (14 goals, five assists). Midfielder Natalie Smith, an Austin Peay commitment, has been stellar in the middle with 10 goals and 14 assists.
Pride has become a big part of the program with now three state appearances in a row. The Lady Trojans got their first win in a state tournament last season.
"Now that the girls have been there, there's a feeling like it's a tradition," coach Moises Drumond said. "Now that there's that feeling, they've worked hard to achieve it again because they don't want to be the team that doesn't make it."
Throughout the season, Chattanooga Christian's fourth-ranked A/AA team has struggled staying healthy. At one point midway through, the Lady Chargers were missing five players.
The pieces have been coming back together, but CCS's Allie Vannoy aggravated an injury in the sectional victory over East Hamilton.
"We've had every reason to hang our hat, but we've battled all year," coach Cal Sneller said. "It's hard when you start getting better and then have a setback.
"We knew we belonged in the state tournament, but we had to get back in sync. To get back to this spot, though, is incredible. Now we just have to take things one game at a game."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.