|Contributed Photo. Highlands sweeper Caitlin Beck goes up for a ball during the 2006 season. Beck helped Highlands to a state-record 20 shutouts in each of the 2005 and 2006 seasons. She went on to play collegiately at the University of Louisville.|
Some had huge on roles on the 2005 senior-laden state championship Highlands Ladybirds soccer team. Others from the Highlands Class of 2008 had to wait for their time.
While goalkeeper Sydney Hiance received a lot of the credit, sweeper Caitlin Beck and Laura Painter-Cogswell played a big part in the stout Highlands defense. The Ladybirds recorded 20 shutouts in each season outscoring opponents 62-7 and 64-7 in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The 20 shutouts in a season is a Kentucky state record that still stands.
"I have a natural bias," said Nina Kearns, then-Highlands Head Coach. "I played center defense my entire career pretty much as a soccer player myself. I think in America, we place so much on points, scoring and offense and getting them to have that much pride in defense is important because obviously, if the other team never scores, you're not going to lose."
Beck and Cogswell ended up playing soccer in college. Beck helped the University of Louisville to its first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance as a senior in 2011 while Cogswell went to Northern Kentucky University. Beck could have gone the route of some these days, but did not do so.
Hannah Agard stepped into a defensive starting role in 2006 after the graduation of nine seniors. She said the mindset of a defensive player as opposed to an offensive player is different.
"It was about who was covering who because it takes on person open for one second and they can score a goal," Agard said. "If they are dribbling and you are chasing them, you try to keep them on the outside. You have to have that mentality that they can't get by you because if they do, that put a lot more pressure on the other defenders and Sydney (Hiance). You don't want to be that person responsible for giving up the goal."
The players said Kearns demanded respect. But if they bought into it, they did well.
"I could have not played high school soccer and just played club soccer because that was more helpful allowing me play at a higher level in college," Beck said. "If I was dogging it, she made sure to make an example of me in front of everybody. She demanded everyone work hard 100 percent of the time."
Beck cited an example in 2007 when she was a senior. Highlands handled Lloyd Memorial, but did not play well.
"We came out playing sloppy because we knew it was going to be an easy game," Beck said. "She yanked all the starters out and reamed us."
Katie Collinsworth had a nice role on the 2005 team finishing fifth in points with 13 on six goals and an assist. That role expanded on the 2006 team into a starting role. Collinsworth recalled winning the title, 1-0 in 2005 over Lexington Catholic after Rachel Redmond-Stahlhut made the game-winning penalty kick.
"It was a really exciting time in our lives," Collinsworth said. "Hopefully, future generations will be able to experience some of the same feelings that we did."
Amber Barth-Wells and Stephie Newman-Durbin picked up things on the scoring end in 2006. Wells finished second on the 2006 squad with 29 points on 11 goals and seven assists. Durbin finished with fifth with 16 points on three goals and 10 assists.
But aside from those contributions, the duo will forever be known for their roles in The Trackdown. With time winding down in the 2006 state championship game against Louisville Sacred Heart, Megan Leahy took the ball up the left side and dumped it into the attacking third.
Wells started to go after it, but she retreated toward the net when she saw Durbin run hard after it. Durbin hit the ball before it went over the end line and booted it toward the goal before landing on her back.
"Now that I think about it, I feel like me running up the field and crossing the ball to one of the forwards was a pretty common thing we did," Durbin said. "I don't know if I thought anything when I was chasing the ball. I was just hoping to get to it before it went out. I crossed it hoping someone would be there."
Wells was there. She headed it to her left into the goal with 1:01 left in the game. That was the game's only goal as Highlands won 1-0.
"It was an unbelievable play," Wells said. "I thought it was on the end line. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I looked at the time after it went in. I was hoping we'd play good defense (the rest of the way)."
While many remember Highlands rallying around injured Alicia Browning-Gesenhues in the 2006 title game, Highlands also stood by Victoria Poindexter's side. It was not known at the time, but Poindexter battled a life-threatening Auto Immune Disease and listened on the phone when Stahlhut hit the penalty kick in 2005 from the hospital. She'd also lost her father Steve as a freshman in 2004.
"The team came to my bedside," Poindexter said. "I'll never forget that. The friendships I've gained to this day because of the soccer team were awesome. We would have fun together. It made me love soccer even more."
Beck recalled how the students decorated the school during the state championship runs. She even said her older brother Eric and his friends came down to watch the game in 2005 and even painted up for it.
"Everyone was talking about it and it was so exciting," Beck said. "It would have been awesome to win three in a row, but I'm happy with the two. Highlands is such a football school. It was nice to have the focus on girls soccer for a little bit. All of our parents were awesome too."
Poindexter and Wells went on to play at Transylvania University for two years. Another teammate in Erin Haas-Eckstein played two years at Hanover. Eckstein was among the many who had to wait for her time to see the field on a deep team.
"It was about knowing what's best for the team," Eckstein said. "To be a good teammate, you have to be supportive of the coach's decisions. When it is your time to go in, you give it 100 percent knowing it would pay off in the long run."
Julie Reinstatler-Kuhl may not have played as much as the others. But she still found joy in playing the sport.
"I hated staying home and doing nothing," Kuhl said. "I had so many groups of friends in all the different sports that I did. It made me happy. Dance team and cheerleading were definitely my favorites, but I truly enjoyed soccer. It was hard to balance, but I would do it over again in a heartbeat."
One lesson Kuhl learned while doing all three was time management. She recently did an online program in grad school while working as a nurse in the night time in grad school at the University of Kentucky.
Where are the 2008 Highlands
Girls Soccer Seniors from state
championship teams now?
- works as Physical Therapist at Cincinnati
Children's Hospital Medical Center.
- helped University of Louisville women's
soccer to first-ever Sweet 16 appearance in
school history in 2011.
- works at Western and Southern
- married to former Highlands football
player and 2006 graduate Ben Wells.
- just gave berth to daughter Remi.
- resides in Clemson (South Carolina)
and works for Young Life.
- also does Occupational Therapy
once a week.
- married to 2006 Conner graduate
- works as paralegal in downtown
- married to Joey Cogswell
- plays semi-professionally for the
Sirens Football Club.
- currently in medical school at
the University of Virginia.
- lives in Breckinridge, Colorado.
- graduated with honors from
- preparing to go to Grad School
for Media, Film and Journalism.
- resides in Orlando (Florida) and
is engaged to Patrick Hughes.
- works as Sales Training Specialist
for The Golf Channel.
- Montessori Directress at Trent
Montessori school in Newport.
- married to Kraig Eckstein from
- works in the Cardiothoracic ICU
at the University of Kentucky.
- married to Matt Kuhl of