This is the 31st and final year for Centerville girls soccer coach Don Skelton, who will retire at the end of the season. Skelton often comments about being tempted to return for another season, but his players know he’s only joking.
“He’s definitely retiring. You can tell sometimes that he’s bummed about it,” senior defender Paige Flory said. “So we definitely want to put it all out there for him because it’s his last year. We’re playing not only for us, but for him.”
So far, so good.
Centerville played stifling defense and persevered through a typically physical contest against local rival Alter, remaining undefeated with a 2-0 win Saturday night in Centerville. The Elks (6-0), who got goals from junior Lauren Moran and senior Amy Simpson, were rarely threatened by the Knights (4-2), who entered ranked No. 1 in the Division II state poll.
“Our handling of the ball wore them out,” said Skelton, who recently won his 500th game at Centerville and will be joined in retirement by 29th-year assistant Frank Holloway. “And we did a good job of slowing them down defensively.”
Centerville’s seniors are 4-0 against Alter, a rivalry friendly off-field and not-so-amicable on-field. Many of the schools’ players have played together on club teams and remain friends, but between the lines, it’s always a chippy affair filled with jersey tugs and jostling.
Flory, for example, got into a late mini-skirmish with one of her friends from Alter.
“I pulled her jersey, and she scratched me. She said, ‘Sorry I scratched you but you pulled my jersey,’ ” Flory said. “We called a truce and hugged.”
With less than one minute remaining in a first half featuring few offensive threats, Centerville senior Maddie Kubaszewki broke free up the left side and crossed the ball perfectly to Moran, who blasted it into the net. Centerville put the game on ice with 8:27 remaining, when Flory delivered a pretty cross-field assist to Simpson, who slid the ball past Alter goalie Abby Helm and into the opposite corner of the goal.
Scoring on Centerville, ranked No. 3 in the Division I poll, will prove challenging for opponents all season. The Elks are filled with experienced starters and have allowed three goals in six games. They’re hoping it’ll carry them to the promised land; Centerville has made several postseason runs over the years but hasn’t won a state title.
Skelton isn’t thinking that far ahead, but he is bullish on his final Centerville squad.
“I think this team measures up to any team we’ve had here,” he said.