By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
FAUCETT - Like several days already this spring, March 23 was soaked with rain.
Persistent showers early in the day prompted many area high schools to postpone or cancel baseball and girls' soccer games.
Yet, nothing was going to spoil opening day for Mid-Buchanan girls' soccer.
"We love the rain," head coach Danielle Beers said. "We'll play in the rain any day. It's just been very, very windy lately."
The rain did stop last Tuesday, but the Dragons cruised to an 8-0 victory at home over Ewing Marion Kauffman with University Academy Charter. Not bad for the first ever soccer game, boys or girls, to be played in Mid-Buchanan school history.
Freshman center/midfielder Liv Moeckli led her team with four goals in the victory.
"It was a good confidence booster," she said. "It definitely gave us the mentality of 'we can do it' rather than just going through the games. Winning that first game brought us a good mentality."
Moeckli has played competitive soccer to some degree since she was a second grader.
Not many of her teammates have that advantage. Sophomore goalie Mallie Lieffring had never played the sport until this spring.
"I wasn't actually going to play until Ms. Beers had said, 'We need a goalie!'" Lieffring said. "So I was like, I have nothing else to do, so I might as well go out and try it."
Lieffring and 24 other athletes at Mid-Buchanan are giving girls' soccer a shot this spring.
"It's really amazing to finally have a school team to play for," Moeckli said. "It's so great to have so many people to come out that you wouldn't expect. It's a great feeling to finally have that."
The Dragons' 8-0 win was followed the next day by a 5-0 loss at Chillicothe - a team who had won a district title in 2019.
"Every time we get out on the field, we're going to get better," Beers said. "We're going to learn and we're going to grow. That Chillicothe game shows that there are so many positives there. It's just going be a question of, what can we do to build off of that and see where we end the season."
With 11 matches left and the Moberly Invitational Tournament on the schedule as well, there's plenty of room for growth and development. But right now, the Dragons are just having fun.
"I feel like every day I'm telling (athletic director) Chris Kendrick, 'I'm having so much fun,'" Beers said, "and the girls are having just as much fun. So, going into that first game, they had worked so hard for the past three weeks. It's been back to the basics, because three-fourths of these girls have never played (soccer) before. Or, haven't played since they were really little."
Beers, a 2013 Bishop LeBlond graduate, has lived and breathed soccer. She was a four-year starter for the Eagles, scoring 29 goals and adding 34 assists while garnering All-City, All-Conference, All-District and All-Region honors in her varsity career.
She went onto play collegiately for Truman State before coming back to coach soccer at LeBlond as an assistant in 2018. She was named the Eagles' head coach in 2019, and guided the team to a 6-9 record and a runner-up finish in the Class 1 District 8 title game.
Beers was also teaching at Mid-Buchanan Elementary during that time, and had heard off-and-on discussions about the Dragons starting their own program.
"I said, 'You know what? If you do it, if you get it going, I'll come do it," Beers said. "It just so happened that everything randomly fell into place and we were able to make that happen."
Nobody was exactly sure what to expect when the season began, but the energy and enthusiasm remains high.
"It's a great bonding experience to be able to go out with these girls," Lieffring said, "and have another sport that we're able to go out and play together and just learn something new."
They've played two games already, but that 'newness' excitement still lingers. Girls are learning more about the game, and likely, about each other.
Beers is watching gleefully, hoping that her players learn to love soccer just as much as she did during her playing days in St. Joseph and in Kirksville.
"I'm just excited to see where this program goes," Beers said. "Even in our first year. Being able to build and knowing there's some real possibilities with some upcoming classes, I'm just excited to see these girls fall in love with a sport I've always loved. It's been an honor and a privilege to do that here at Mid-Buchanan."
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.