Playing varsity soccer as a freshman can be intimidating in its own right. Being the shortest player on the field in a physical game takes it to another level.
That was the situation facing Catholic Central’s Josie Krupp, who wasn’t exactly alarming opponents at 4 feet, 11 inches tall.
“Freshman year was scary going in being so small and playing against seniors who were four years older than me,” Krupp said.
As it turns out, Krupp was scary good.
Krupp recorded her 100th career goal in a 12-0 victory against Southeastern on Oct. 12. The program’s record holder for career goals leads Catholic Central (11-3-1) into the Division III sectional final at 7 p.m. Monday at Monroe High School. Seventh-seeded Central plays No. 4 Preble Shawnee (12-4-1).
“We think we can go pretty far as long as we keep playing as a team,” Krupp said.
Krupp credits her teammates, especially those upperclassmen when she was a freshman, with helping get her where she is today. If the Wright State University recruit had doubts she could play soccer at the varsity level, her teammates gave them the boot.
“My teammates really helped me a lot by encouraging me and pushing me,” Krupp said. “I’d score a few goals and I was like this is something I can do. My size isn’t going to determine anything.”
Krupp broke the career scoring record two games into the season, netting her 78th to push her past Brooke Maletic. Catholic Central coach Mark Derr admits he wondered if Krupp would be able to hold up during the rigors of a rough-and-tumble varsity season, especially battling near the opponent’s goal.
“I knew she was one of those kids that could score. I don’t know I expected 100 goals,” Derr said. “You worry about if she’ll be able to take the punishment because it’s a physical game. I’ve been impressed because of her toughness. She’s had her bumps and bruises. But generally she plays through it. Her playing a little bit hurt is better than a lot of players 100 percent healthy.”
Catholic Central reached the sectional final last season before falling to Hamilton Badin 2-1 in double overtime. Central’s schedule prepared the team for another run with seven Division II opponents. The three losses came to Cincinnati Country Day (14-2-1, ranked No. 9 in final D-II state poll), West Liberty-Salem (14-2, ranked No. 8 in D-III poll) and Waynesville (14-1-1 in D-II).
Along with forward Taylor Baker and midfielders Caitlin Foley and Megan Galluch the Irish have been packing a punch. Galluch sees the field well and distributes well. Derr said Foley has an engine that never quits. And Baker has dented the net with 18 goals during the regular season.
“We’re a good mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores,” Derr said. “They’re playing well together and hopefully they’ll be peaking as we make our way through the tournament. … I would rank this team as one of the top three teams I’ve coached in my 13 years-plus years. I think we can go as far as the girls believe they can go.”
As for Krupp, she debuted as a freshman with 23 goals. She scored 22 more as a sophomore and 31 as a junior.
“It’s kind of surreal. I’m very blessed to get 100 goals,” said Krupp, a fourth-year varsity player who also carries a 3.7 grade-point average. “Not many people get to do that. It feels unreal.”
“For my viewpoint, she makes everyone on the field better and gets everyone involved in the game,” added Derr. “She just has that innate ability to see the field well and put herself in the right position to either receive the ball to make the pass or to finish the ball. She has that ability to go into another gear when she has to.”