ANDREW JANSEN / JOURNAL Matthew Bearman, MICDS, in the Rams 4-0 loss to Priory. Sam Pieper, Priory.

Andrew Jansen

John Mohrmann isn’t surprised by any of this. Not completely, anyway. Did he see his St. Louis Priory School soccer team closing in on 90 goals, while only allowing one through 16 games? Probably not. Did he think this team would be unbeaten at this point? It was in the realm of reasonable possibility. Did he know this year’s Rebels might be the best team to ever pull on a Priory shirt? Yes. If healthy he believed this group could be just that. “The main thing is this group understands what good soccer is,” Mohrmann says.

As the season has worn on, this version of the Rebels isn’t just the best Priory team. It’s the best soccer team in town and, one could argue, the state. Priory pinned an 8-0 whooping on rival Whitfield School on Saturday morning. The Warriors, the kings of Class 1, are in the midst of a rebuilding year. But the Rebels did things that impressed the opposing coach. “Top to bottom they’re the best team we’ve seen play all year,” Whitfield coach Bill Daues says. “And I’ll include CBC and De Smet Jesuit. They’re the best team from a player perspective.”

The Rebels have an abundance of riches and aren’t shy about deploying them. They have 13 seniors, who provide experience and leadership. They have six players drawing Division I soccer interest, some of whom might bypass that interest and play at smaller and more academically focused universities. Every player that takes the field on a regular basis is exceptionally fit and, more often than not, makes good decisions with the ball. They also are athletic. Don’t underestimate how important that can be. Just because someone is an athlete does not make them athletic. Priory has players who run faster, jump higher and are stronger than their opposition.

When you combine that physical advantage with their overall technical skills what around with such precision it’s as if they are messing with their opponents. It’s aweinspiring to watch. If you have to play against it, you’ll want to tear your hair out.

Senior midfielder James Pieper has played plenty of soccer in his 17 years and been on the other side of what good possession teams can do. He’s not a fan of going against it. “It’s horrible. It’s not fun,” Pieper says.

Pieper is a major cog in what the Rebels are doing this fall. At 6-foot-4, he’s a giant on the field. His size makes him a matchup nightmare in the air. At a sculpted 185 pounds, it’s nearly impossible to push him off the ball.

Pieper is also an example of just how good things are at Priory. Everything had to go just right for him to be on the field. He began his high school career at Gateway Academy but it closed after his freshman year. He transferred to Chaminade High School as a sophomore, but didn’t feel he fit in. He then transferred to Priory, but per MSHSAA regulations, was ineligible for varsity competition.

When tryouts began in the summer, Mohrmann didn’t know what role Pieper would play. “He came into practice sharp,” Mohrmann says. “He’s super humble and totally calm. Nothing fazes him.”

As good as Priory is, there are some lingering questions. Chief among them is whether or not the Rebels can come back from a deficit. Priory has never trailed this season. When the playoffs come around, everything tightens up, even the players. If the Rebels do allow a goal, or dare I say two goals, how will they react? “We have enough guys who’ve played enough soccer they’ve experienced that before,” Mohrmann says. “Our goal will be to try and not let it happen.”