Sophomore Cate Adler and the Red Devils: Fourth-year as State Champs, first year with COVID-19

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Courtesy of Cate Adler

Led by head coach Bob Kittner, sophomore Cate Adler (wing-back) and her team take the 2020 State Championship Cup. Numbering all of their appearances at State, Adler’s team has a total of 19 wins, one tie, 79 goals for and three against. “We’ve improved so much over the years. Corona definitely made us stronger and closer as a team,” Adler said.

Advancing to the United States Youth Soccer [USYS] MO State Cup Championship game, sophomore Cate Adler and the Sporting ‘04 Red Devils are fixed on taking the victory as State Champs since 2016. For Adler and her team, the road to success differed from previous years as their preparation adapted to COVID-19.

During the championship game, Adler’s team went head-to-head with Gallagher Elite. As a three-year wingback on the Red Devil’s, Adler has played Gallagher Elite for the State Champs title in years prior, numbering 2019 where Adler’s team took a four-zero victory, Oct 18.

“They’re the biggest competition in our state. We knew if we were to play them, it’d be a very physical game,” Adler said. “[Once the game started,] we were up on them a lot. We scored two goals, and they didn’t have much offensive attack. They ended up scoring off of a corner kick late in the first [half], so we pulled back and started playing more defensively.”

As the game progressed, Adler’s team suffered two injuries from a center and wing-back. Having only 14 girls originally, Adler’s team was already missing one wingback.

Posing with the State Cup, sophomore Cate Adler and teammates celebrate before attending their traditional team dinner. Off the field bonding was crucial to improving their game play. “My team and I are really close. Hanging out when we go out of town is one of our favorite things to do,” Adler said. (Courtesy of Cate Adler)

“It put a lot of pressure on us. As a team we’re very resilient and handle pressure pretty well, so it intensified [our playing]” Adler said. “We ended up scoring 20 minutes into the second half. Since we were up by two, it relieved a lot of tension. We reverted back to our typical style of play and pushed it out to the end.”

Winning five games in three days, the triple whistle blew and the Red Devils became the 2020 USYS 2004 Girls State Champions. Adler credits her team’s success to their hard work and camaraderie.

“We consistently put in the work and never stop,” Adler said. “That’s what makes us deserving of the State Cup: we don’t just walk in every year expecting a win, we’ve earned it every time.”

Adler’s team plays year-round, minus the time of high school soccer when Adler plays for the girl’s varsity team. To balance sports, academics and her social life, Adler follows her student-athlete equilibrium. Adler attends practice three nights a week, as well as Athletic Republic [AR] training once a week for agility and strength-based instruction.

“The hardest thing for me is maintaining energy levels and trying not to spread myself too thin. I prioritize and have routines down so that I can be active in my school and my soccer club,” Adler said. “I’ve adjusted to it over the years and have figured out what works best for me.”

In terms of physical preparation for tournaments like State, the Red Devils proceed with this usual practice schedule and style. However, when it comes to psychological preparation, their time together differs: exercising their brains, rather than their bodies. This has become more beneficial with the current pandemic.

Holding the 2019 Regional Champions plaque, sophomore Cate Adler and her team celebrate their second year at regionals. Adler has played soccer since she was three and has been with the Red Devils for the past three years. “[Soccer] is something I grew up playing. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed and it’s a future option for me.” (Courtesy of Cate Adler)

“Given coronavirus, we focus extra on redirecting our minds to the game, rather than [COVID-19],” Adler said. “[In a game the weekend before the State Championship] we focused on more tactical aspects, really training our mindset for the upcoming games. Before big tournaments that’s what we tend to do.”

As they prepare for the next tournament, regionals, Adler’s team will focus on mental acuity and positivity as well as replicating the strategies that brought them victory.

“Covid has caused a lot of my games to be postponed and given me an unset soccer schedule. It’s been difficult especially with the frequent changes in schooling,” Adler said. “It’s really just about being flexible and making the best of what I can.”