As soccer season kicks into full gear for the teams of Southern Denton County, hopes are high across the board.
Most of the area teams return several players from last season, and with new arrivals poised to fill in where others have moved on, expectations are as high as ever.
The Argyle Eagles wrapped up last season with a near perfect record and extended playoff run on the boys side, and coach Marc Koke said, while his team has endured a major setback, added there is a lot to be excited about in 2012.
“We’re coming along,” Koke said. “We had an injury issue with our super star freshman from last year, Ian Saddler. He also plays football. He tore his ACL in the state championship football game and will be out for the season, but the rest of the kids are coming along very well.
“We have a real good senior class. Nick McKellar, Kevin Fenley, Kyle Davis and Dylan Jourdan are some of our big returners, and they should be some of our better players.”
Argyle finished 25-2-1 last season and advanced five rounds in the post season to the regional quarterfinals.
“We graduated our goalkeeper last year, so our keeper this year, Connor James, has got to kind of establish himself in that role as the starter,” Koke said. “We have moved some players around this year, and I’m pretty confident that our kids are going to step up.”
For Guyer coach Cody Schroeder, last season was a down year of sorts for the Wildcats, which is something his team does not intend to duplicate.
“We were a little bit less successful than we have been in previous years,” Schroeder said. “We have a lot of players back and training has been going well. We had a good result in our scrimmage against Trinity (1-0 in favor of the Wildcats), so things are coming together slowly.”
Schroeder said he expects McKenna Cook to be among the team leaders for Guyer this season.
“He’s a junior that started the majority of games last year as a sophomore,” Schroeder said. “He had four goals, and we expect him to have kind of a breakout year.”
Schroeder also expects good seasons from Sean Diamond, and senior captain Travis Leach.
“Travis and Sean have started every game the last two years and have a tremendous amount of experience and leadership,” Schroeder said. “We expect them to do some really good things.”
Guyer was 8-8-5 last season and finished fifth in district competition, just missing the post season. Eight different district games for the Wildcats last season were decided by one goal.
“We have a lot to look forward to,” Schroeder said. “It was a big adjustment moving to 5A, and I think we have finally prepared and are ready. Our objectives are to compete from beginning to end in each game, give ourselves an opportunity to put ourselves in a position to win games we should win…and hopefully make the playoffs.”
For the Marcus Marauders boys soccer team, a fourth place finish in district last year was not what the Marcus program was looking for, and while the team that won back to back state championships in 2007 and 2008 have lost some firepower, coach John Gall said that does not lower the expectations in any way.
“We are going to put a good bunch of kids out there that have a fantastic attitude and work really hard out there and see what we can do,” Gall said.
The US Soccer Federation made the decision this year to disallow their players from playing high school soccer, and Gall said his team has definitely been impacted.
“We actually lost five starters from last year’s team,” Gall said. “So essentially, we’ll be starting with a whole new bunch of kids this year. But our goals are still to finish strong and have a great run in the playoffs.”
Marcus finished with a 15-5-4 mark in 2011, and lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Southlake Carroll, the state’s top ranked team at the time, in a shootout.
Gall said the objectives for this season are pretty straightforward.
“With a lot of kids not having varsity experience, we want to get through our pre-season games and kind of figure out exactly where we fit,” Gall said. “I have a good idea of who will be looking at significant playing time, and who will come in and help us off of the bench. I would like to make a good run in the playoffs, and the kids who have tried out this year have come in and shown me how important high school soccer is to them, which is always a plus.”
For Flower Mound High School coach David Doyle, this year has the makings of a good one, but a lot of it will depend on how his team is able to rebound from a bit of a down season in 2011.
“We’re looking pretty good,” Doyle said. “We’ve got an experienced group with 16 seniors. I expect them to at least make a run and make the playoffs.”
Doyle said his stronger returners include Nick Krueger, Conor Ermold, and Brandon Carter this season.
“I think the fact that the academy kids can’t play this season kind of evens the field a bit,” Doyle said. “I didn’t lose anybody to that, so that didn’t hurt us at all.”
Flower Mound finished seventh in district last season, and Doyle said he believes this team will have a better showing.
“The goal is to get to the playoffs,” Doyle said. “We’ve got some kids that have playoff experience from two years ago, and then missing last year, I think everyone really wants it, and we are a much more experienced team than we have been in the past.”
With the talent returning and the changes in player personnel, a lot it still up in the air for the teams of Southern Denton County this season, but all four have a legitimate shot at qualifying for the post-season.
Girls Ready to Represent
North Texas has traditionally produced some of the strongest girl’s soccer talent in the country over the last few decades, and the Southern Denton County area is certainly no exception.
With traditional powerhouses in the sport, to scrappy teams that can never be counted out of the post-season hunt, to upstart programs that are still finding their way, local programs represent the region well each year, and 2012 should be no different.
Guyer second year coach Kenny Blevins is confident about his teams’ chances heading into the season, and with a strong returning corps of players, the Lady Wildcats could be a contender for one of the top four positions in district 7-5A competition.
“As far as the training goes right now, everything is looking really good,” Blevins said. “We’ve got Megan Stokes back, and she is one of our team captains. Hannah Alspack, who was a freshman last year, got off to a really good start and then got injured. She is back to 100 percent now.
“Another player, Jolianne McCleskey, played a lot for us last year and should have a good season. Our goalkeepers, Audrey Martin and Michaela Renfroe, are both pretty good, and we are looking for good seasons from both of them.”
Guyer finished 13-5-5 last season and took fifth place in district 7-5A competition.
Blevins said his team has a couple of goals this year.
“We want to make the playoffs,” Blevins said. “I think that if we can stay healthy, we’ll be fine. Last year, we went through a rash of injuries, which really hindered us.
“We had a really young team last year, as well, with six freshman starting at one point, and now they are all solid and all back, and we’ve had a great off season, so I’m excited.”
For Flower Mound, a third place finish in district 8-5A competition last season has Lady Jaguars coach Trina Hamner optimistic about her team’s prospects for the coming season as well.
Flower Mound finished district competition with a mark of 9-3-2, and Hamner said she believes her team is
strong and balanced.
“We’re excited about the upcoming year,” Hamner said. “Our main focus is working the ball around and trying to create as many opportunities as we can, starting from the backfield.
“We’re returning a lot of players from last year, and we should have a good season.”
Hamner said she expects big things out of her five captains this season, which include Hailee Hunn, Katie Steward, Shelby Booth, Jessica Broadbent and Madison Deen, among others.
Laurel Desilvea, who as a first team all-district selection in 2011 and the Lady Wildcats second leading scorer, should also make some noise for the Lady Jags.
“We don’t have a lot of starters returning,” Hamner said. “But we have a lot of returning varsity players who got that experience of going to the playoffs last year, who are hungry to go back and possibly go farther this year.
“So we’re looking forward to a good season. We know it is going to be stiff competition as always in our 8-5A district, but I feel like we are ready.”
Across town, the The Marcus Lady Marauders were the 2011 District 8-5A Champions, and look to rival for another district championship this season.
Look for last year’s Defender of the Year – Lexi Jordan, Newcomer of the Year – Maddie Brem, and first team all-district selections Emily Morrow, MJ Eckart, Courtney Forte, Katelyn Mountjoy, Natalie Schmutz and Molly Weeks, to lead the way for Marcus this season.
For the Argyle soccer team, being the only 3A school in a district full of 4A programs has certainly presented its problems for the Lady Eagles, but coach Jennifer Goodpaster said she is confident her team can turn things around.
“I’m excited about this season,” Goodpaster said. “This the second year I am coaching for Argyle, and we have six freshman coming in, and I only lost one senior last year. I’ve got everyone else returning, and I think we laid a pretty good foundation last year, so this year is shaping up to look really nice.”
Goodpaster expects Ella Galvin and Tess Athey, the team’s two seniors, to lead the way for Argyle this season.
The Argyle coach said her expectations for this year is for her team to be competitive.
“My objectives for this season are to do better than last season,” Goodpaster said. “Since we are the only 3A school in our district by a considerable amount, my goals are to beat the 3A schools we play (in non-district), and to get that fourth spot to make a successful district run.”
To have a successful season, Goodpaster said it will take one thing more than anything else.
“We can have no injuries,” Goodpaster said. “We have a better bench than we have ever had, but because we play against teams that have 60 girls in their soccer program, and I have 17, we cannot afford to lose any players to injury.”
Every girls team should prove to be formidable this season, with a few having legitimate shots to have long playoff runs, but it all boils down to which teams are healthiest at the end of the season, and which teams have the best chemistry on and off the field.