Strong family support was assured for two players on state championship soccer teams this spring. That’s because Belle Boschert of Duchesne High School in St. Charles and Madeline Stewart of St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon come from a long line of family alumni of their respective schools.
“Stuck” in goal
Boschert represents the fourth generation of her family to attend Duchesne. Both of her parents and both of her grandparents on her dad’s side attended Duchesne, and her great-grandmother on her dad’s side attended St. Peter High School, the forerunner of Duchesne.
Duchesne won the Class 1 championship in penalty kicks earlier this month over two-time defending state champion St. Vincent, 2-1. “It can be a make-it-or-break-it moment for a goalie’s confidence,” Boschert said. “Part of it was luck and part of it was going back to my training. My team pulled it off.”
As a kindergartner at St. Cletus School in St. Charles, Boschert didn’t want to play soccer until “I realized every single girl in class was playing and I didn’t get invited to the sleepover for the soccer team.”
Her coach “stuck” her in goal against a team from a bigger school that always overpowered her team. She only gave up four goals — a victory in itself — and her coach gave her the permanent job while the opposing coach invited her to be part of a club team.
Boschert didn’t see herself going further in sports. “I surprised myself, that’s for sure,” Boschert said.
Now recognized as the Missouri Class 1 Goalkeeper of the Year, Boschert’s mature approach helped nab the school’s sixth championship in girls soccer. “I had to hone in on the job that has to be done and do it to the best of my ability,” she said.
She’d injured her hand before the game, and recalled that she quietly said to herself “‘You’re going to be fine, you’re going to play your best even if your hand hurts.’ Then the adrenaline started to pump and everything was OK.’”
The rising junior spread the credit. “Everybody on our team deserves that state championship,” Boschert said, adding praise also for St. Vincent’s team. “They were a very polite team, they were graceful, a very strong team. It was fun to play a team that was so equally matched with us.”
She cited the support of students and staff at Duchesne, where she also is on the volleyball and swims teams and is a student ambassador and and core ambassador. “We just try to help each other grow in mind, body and spirit,” she said.
The faith life there is strong, including on the soccer team, Boschert said, where “we know we’re praying for more than just a game. It’s a big part of our pre-game and focus.”
She’s also a member of the Scholars Academy at Duchesne, a comprehensive curriculum in the school’s pre-AP (advanced placement), AP, and advanced college credit courses. Scholars Academy students take auxiliary classes designed to complement their core curricular classes, culminating in a senior-level capstone project of their choosing.
Stewart knows of St. Dominic High School’s rich soccer tradition — she’s in the third generation of her family to attend school there, and her dad, Tim, and uncle, Eric Schwendeman, coached the St. Dominic girls soccer program to the Crusaders’ first of five state championships in 2001.
A senior last season, Stewart missed out on a title her previous years. The girls hit the jackpot this spring, however, with a 2-1 win on penalty kicks in the Class 3 finals against Rockwood Summit. From the beginning of the season, “there was this intensity that we hadn’t seen before,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s mom, Stacy, who will become St. Dominic’s first alumni principal on July 1, was in Duchesne’s class of 1989. Her mom’s side of the family has seven St. Dominic grads and her dad’s sister attended the school. Stewart’s grandparents attended St. Dominic when it was known as Assumption High School.
Previously her dad teased her about having won a championship as a coach. After the game, she told him: “You can’t brag about it anymore. Now we’re tied.”
Stewart followed her mom’s footsteps by running on the cross country team at St. Dominic and leaving a mark as a three-year state qualifier and part of the 2018 AAA conference championship team. In soccer, she played midfielder, made all conference and was an MAC all-star this year.
Stewart was inspired by her religion teacher, Matt Winkelmann, to join the AD Club, a faith-sharing group that meets to discuss upcoming Sunday readings. She became a leader her junior year. “That really helped my faith experience and knowledge of Scripture,” she said.
In peer ministry, she and other seniors helped lead liturgies and retreats for St. Dominic students. The recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Model of Justice Award from the archdiocese, she also was a member of the Outreach Club, a service organization.
A member of Assumption Parish in O’Fallon, Stewart combines her faith with her sport. She knew at least one other girl on her club team was interested in praying before games, so she organized it for those who wanted it. “Everyone agreed we’d huddle up before each game, the starters on the field, and say a little prayer. I really wanted to merge these two important things in my life together,” she said.
Stewart appreciated prayer on her St. Dominic team, too, and called her teammates together to pray in the state championship game before the penalty kicks to seek a calming presence.
She’ll play soccer in the fall at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.