EDWARDSVILLE - Incoming junior forward Olivia Baca emerged as one of the key players for Edwardsville High School's varsity soccer girls as a sophomore in the 2021 season. Baca will also be a key Tigers' returnee for the spring 2022 season.

One of the highlights of her season this year was a breathtaking goal in the 74th minute to give Edwardsville a 1-0 win over Collinsville in the opening Southwestern Conference girls soccer match at Tiger Stadium, the first match for either side in nearly two years after the COVID-19 Pandemic canceled the year.

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Baca scored a dramatic equalizer against O'Fallon in a match won by the Tigers in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw on April 15, and in Edwardsville's and scored from a penalty spot late in the first half in a 4-0 win over Alton on April 27. Through the Class 3A sectional semifinal, where the Tigers were eliminated by O'Fallon, Baca scored seven goals and had four assists for 18 points, and scored four game-winning goals.

Baca emerged as one of the key players on the Tigers in 2021 and worked very hard in helping Edwardsville prepare and perform in the postseason.

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Baca, who plays for head coach Abby Federmann, was very excited to be back with the Tigers in 2021 after the break from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

"It was great," Baca said of being back. "I was really nervous as a lot of the girls were when we started games again. But then each one is just another soccer game. We were all there to play and to win."

"A was a big setback last year with COVID-19," Baca said. "I was really looking forward to being on the team last year. But then, with the coronavirus, it taught me to work on myself, and work when the times are tough, work on my own when we didn't have soccer anymore."

All-in-all, Baca was just very happy to be back on the pitch in 2021 with her teammates and is looking forward to the 2022 season.

"Yes, I'm so happy," Baca said with a smile to finish the 2021 girls soccer season. "It is good to be back."

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