Fire & Ice recently completed an 8-1-1 season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. While it didn’t win the Midwest Region as it did in 2013, the competition was keener.
“The league keeps getting stronger,” said Lindsay Kennedy-Eversmeyer, an Alton High School graduate who is Fire & Ice’s coach and general manager. “We’re getting stronger as well.”
Fire & Ice, in its third season, was the WPSL’s Midwest region champion two years ago in its inaugural season. This season, it managed a tie against the Chicago Red Stars Reserves, who won the WPSL’s national championship by beating SoCal FC 2-1 in Edmond, Okla.
Fire & Ice’s victories came against KC Courage (twice), Minnesota TwinStars (twice), Quad City Eagles (twice) and Des Moines Menace (twice). It allowed six goals in 10 games.
Kennedy-Eversmeyer’s roster was dotted with an abundance of metro-east talent, including Rachel Tejada (Triad, Illinois State), Kelsey Dinges (Althoff, Miami-Ohio), Megan Pawloski (Althoff, Illinois), Mara Keomanivane (Granite City, McKendree), Kayla Delgado (Belleville East, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and Gayla Foster (Edwardsville, Louisiana-Lafayette).
Tejada, who along with Dinges was the Belleville News-Democrat’s Co-Player of the Year in 2011, led Fire & Ice with nine goals and four assists despite playing in just four games. Dinges had six goals and three assists and Pawloski, a two-time BND Player of the Year, had five goals and two assists. Jesse Crabtree (Marion, Southeast Missouri State) had four goals and three assists.
“The whole group was talented,” Kennedy-Eversmeyer said. “My bench was even deep. It’s like coaching an All-Star team.”
Fire & Ice was supposed to play its home contests at venerable Oerter Park in Columbia, but a rain-soaked summer forced games to be moved to the artificial surface at Columbia High. Fire & Ice also played one game at St. Louis Scott Gallagher’s Collinsville complex.
Kennedy-Eversmeyer said an average of about 200 fans watched the home games. Fire & Ice has lost just one home game in three years, to the Chicago Red Stars Reserves in 2014.
Kennedy-Eversemeyer said the WPSL is healthy and that Fire & Ice, with more than 20 sponsors, should remain on solid footing. She even expects it will be possibile for the team to play its home games at the proposed $13 million complex on Illinois 15 across from Our Lady of the Snows Shrine.
“That’s another good option,” Kennedy-Eversmeyer said. “It’s accessible from both sides of the river.”
Kennedy-Eversmeyer and Fire & Ice recently teamed up with U.S. Women’s National Soccer team member Lori Chalupny to host a three-day camp at Oerter Park and at Maryville University in St. Louis. The camp, for girls ages 8 to 18, attacted 143 players.
Chalupny, a native of St. Louis who played at Nerinx Hall High and North Carolina, helped the women’s national team win the World Cup.
Kennedy-Eversmeyer said campers were given “homework” assignments each night. Completed assignments gave them an opportunity to win prizes, including a U.S. women’s soccer jersey signed by national team members, U.S. national team photo books and Fire & Ice jerseys.