The future is set for Catholic Central High School’s Caitlin Foley.
This summer, the Irish junior midfielder committed to play soccer at the University of Tennessee, choosing the Vols over Xavier and Georgetown.
“The athletic facilities and the education are great (at Tennessee),” Foley said. “I loved the coaching staff and the atmosphere. It’s really one big family and I liked that.”
»RELATED: Tuesday’s high school roundup
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Now, Foley and her Irish teammates are gunning for a deep run in the postseason. The Irish improved to 7-3-1 this season with a 4-3 non-conference win over Dayton Christian on Tuesday.
“We’re all really working well as a team and we all really love each other,” Foley said. “We all wanna work hard, play hard and go really far. We’ve been working hard to get better.”
Foley has 11 goals and two assists for the Irish, despite playing a defensive midfield position.
“When you talk about having a motor that never stops, that’s her,” Irish coach Mark Derr said. “She plays 80 minutes. The only time she comes out is when we pull her out because we’ve got a really big lead. She can get up the field and she plays great defense.”
Catholic Central’s three losses came to Division III second-ranked Cincinnati Country Day, D-III No. 8 Lehman Catholic and one-loss Greenon.
“We’ve had a tough schedule,” said Derr, who is in his 14th season with the program. “We’ve got quite a few home games coming over the next few weeks.”
It’s also been a year of injuries, the coach said. The Irish have three players who wear walking boots unless they’re on the field, he said. Senior Maggie Bruce is also currently playing with a torn ACL, while returning leading scorer Taylor Baker was lost for the season due to a torn meniscus in the season opener. They’ve finished multiple games with 12 and 13 players.
“The girls are hanging in and everyone has stepped up,” Derr said. “I’m really proud of how the girls have responded to all the injuries and dealing with it.”
The Irish tied OHC rival West Liberty-Salem earlier this season, which put both teams in a hole in the conference race. They’ll need help to catch Greenon, Derr said.
The Irish are also gunning for a fourth straight D-III district final appearance, he said. Last year, they lost to eventual state champion Cincinnati Summit Country Day.
“Our goal is always to win the league and beyond that get back to the district final,” Derr said.
The senior class of Megan Galluch, Abby Erter and Kirsten Beals have been strong leaders for the Irish this year, Derr said.
“They’ve been great with some of the younger kids, showing leadership and knowing what to do at the right time, stepping up in a game,” he said. “I’m really proud of them and what they’ve done.”
Foley started playing soccer at the age of 4 and eventually found her way to the Springfield Thunder. At 10, Foley started playing for Ohio Premier in Columbus, where she still plays today.
She’s also a member of the Irish girls cross country team along with teammates Addie Engel, Bridget Engel and Sydney Yontz. Addie Engel is a two-time state qualifier for the Irish, who advanced to the regionals as a team last season.
“I love running with my friends,” she said. “It definitely helps (with conditioning). That’s one of the big reasons why I do it. It helps me stay in shape for club.”
Bridget Engel has eight goals and two assists for the Irish this season, while Galluch has six goals and seven assists and Yontz has three goals and seven assists.
“If we work hard and keep playing together, we should have a great season,” Foley said.