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Thomas Kleinbach (12, #4), Nick Merlo (9, #99), and Dan Baudendistel (11, #22) fight with Mehlville for the ball.  The boys lost to Mehlville 1-0 in the District Finals.

Thomas Kleinbach (12, #4), Nick Merlo (9, #99), and Dan Baudendistel (11, #22) fight with Mehlville for the ball. The boys lost to Mehlville 1-0 in the District Finals.

Jessica Belle Kramer

Thomas Kleinbach (12, #4), Nick Merlo (9, #99), and Dan Baudendistel (11, #22) fight with Mehlville for the ball. The boys lost to Mehlville 1-0 in the District Finals.

Jessica Belle Kramer

Jessica Belle Kramer

Thomas Kleinbach (12, #4), Nick Merlo (9, #99), and Dan Baudendistel (11, #22) fight with Mehlville for the ball. The boys lost to Mehlville 1-0 in the District Finals.

Sarah Pickel, Staff Writer

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Athletes share motivations, stories from battles with hated foes

Rivalries in sports drive athletes to play their best games, push coaches to come up with new drills, and raise school spirit through the roof. Every sport has at least one opposing team that they would give anything to beat.

Rivals play a role in all sports at all levels. In professional baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals have the Chicago Cubs, in college basketball, the Mizzou Tigers have the Kansas Jayhawks, and with high school soccer, the Lindbergh Flyers have the Mehlville Panthers.

“Playing a team every year that is in your conference, and you know you’ll see later in the year provides extra motivation. Usually riavals are close in location so the teams know each other and know how they play. Familiarity breeds contempt,” Rob Langevin (Girls Volleyball Head Coach) said.

No matter what sport, the time leading up to the big game can be intense. The mentality changes because everyone wants to win.

In basketball, one rivalry the team has is Vianney. Located just down the road, the two teams have battled for years, and have rarely had a dull game. The teams know each other’s offense and always play close, usually low scoring games.

“In practices leading up to the game, coach is always prepared, going back to every player on their team and what their strengths are. He’s played Vianney for so many years and knows what they do, so he runs us through drills that focus on skills that we are going to need,” Erik Lahm (11) said.

Last year, LHS defeated Vianney in a close, nail-biting game. Flyers fans were on the edge of their seats when Ryan Lacefield (Class of 2017) scored a three pointer at the end of regulation, tying the game and sending it into overtime. At the end of overtime, Lacefield hit another three point shot that put the Flyers on top, winning the game.

Traditional foes can be set for a long time or develop just in the course of a season or two. In the 2017 season, girls volleyball was working harder than ever to beat Oakville, and the football team picked up a new motivation to beat Eureka in the future.

Rivalry games create a different mindset within the team.
“When we are playing our rival we are motivated to play to our best so that we can win,” Sammy Stoecklein (11) said.

In games against the rival team, bragging rights are always at stake, but sometimes another element of the competion can surface. Teams might face off with their rivals in districts or playoffs, in which case a trophy and a title are also up for grabs.

In cases like this, preparation is key. The past few years, the girls soccer team played Oakville a number of times, and have consistently held close games; winning or losing by only one goal. The girls take this into consideration when gearing up for these big games.

“It has always been very back and forth with who wins, so it is never a predictable outcome. We have to put a lot of emphasis on certain drills that work around how they play. We practice how we can defend them or how to organize our offence to break them down,” Kate Daus (12) said.

Last year was not exception and the girls soccer team played Oakville once again. The Flyers and the Tiger went head to head twice, once during the regular season, and once in the District Championship. During the regular season games, the LHS girls lost in penalty kicks, and during the District game took a loss in a 1-0 game.

These battles are a way to make the games more fun and give them a little more value. Winning against the team that you’ve worked so hard so hard to beat is one of the most rewarding parts of playing a sport.

“Rivalries make sports more fun because you get pumped to play against the same opponent you’ve had for years. All the hard work pays off and everything is left out on the field,” Tyler West (12) said.

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