With soccer season kicking into full gear, the teams of southern Denton County have a lot to be optimistic about, and a lot to play for, in the 2015-16 season.
Multiple boys teams earned playoff spots last season, and Denton County should once again be well represented, when the postseason rolls around.
The Flower Mound boys finished fourth in district last season, just made the playoffs and got hot at just the right time to make a good run.
The Jaguars advanced to the regional semifinals, before losing to Amarillo.
Coach David Doyle said that, unfortunately, his team was hit pretty hard by graduation.
“The team is shaping up fine,” Doyle said. “We lost a lot from last year’s team, so it will be a big challenge this season.”
The Jags finished 12-4-4 last season and should be led by one player in particular.
“Tyler McElwee is going to have to have a great season for us to compete this year,” Doyle said.
The Flower Mound coach said the expectations for this season are to be within a shot of the postseason with three or for games to go, and said to have a chance at the playoffs, it will take a strong effort all the way around.
“A lot of new players will have to step up and replace the talent and leadership we lost from last year,” Doyle said.
Across town at Marcus, Coach John Gall’s team finished third overall in district last season, but lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Keller Central.
Gall said that he is feeling confident about his team heading into the season and said he believes that things are shaping up well for Marcus.
“The team has been working very hard during the off-season and [we] are ready for the season to kickoff,” Gall said.
The Marcus coach added he expects fourth-year starter Jackson Bradford, senior midfielder Ethan Woods and goalkeeper Landon Plunkett (Harvard commit) to lead the way for the team this year.
Marcus won state championships in 2007 and 2008, and Gall said that nothing has changed in the way of expectations for the Marauders.
“As always, we expect to have a deep playoff run and give ourselves a chance at a third state title,” Gall said.
In order to put themselves in a position to do that, Gall said it will take one major thing.
“Consistency is always the key to any successful team,” he said.
For Liberty Christian School in Argyle, last year was the best year yet for the varsity boys’ soccer team and 2015-16 could prove to be more of the same for the Warriors.
The return of last year’s first team all-district selection Justus Lee at forward for the Warriors could help give them the offensive firepower they need to make a postseason run once again.
Down the road at Argyle High School, Coach Daniel Lundy said that he is especially excited about this season, given the fact that most of his team is still intact.
“I have eight starters returning from a district championship team, so I feel that this year we will have a much faster start to the season than we have had in years past,” Lundy said.
The Eagles finished 14-8 last season and lost in the area round of the playoffs.
Lundy said that he anticipates Gainesville, the Eagles’ co-district champions last season, as being Argyle’s most difficult opponent and said he expects a couple of players to have big seasons.
“Team leaders this year will be first and foremost Drew Estrada, he is the leading scorer returning with 19 goals and has started all four years in high school,” Lundy said. “Caleb Holt is the next leading scorer returning with 14 from last year. In the goal, Holden Bell is returning to start for us again this year.”
Lundy said the objectives for the season are to win a district championship and qualify for the regional tournament. To have a successful season, it will take a few things.
“Replacing three starters will be key to our success this year,” Lundy said. “But with the majority of our offense and defense coming back, I feel that we will have a long run in the playoffs.”
For the Guyer boys soccer team, a seventh place finish and 4-10 mark in district has left a bad taste and Coach Cody Schroeder said that his team is looking forward to getting out and competing in 2016.
“Our current team is working extremely hard and is highly motivated to attain more success than we did last year,” Schroeder said.
The Guyer coach said he expects a couple of players to lead the way this season.
“Seniors Billy Burford (leading goal scorer 11 goals, 5 assists) and Josh Kasitz, defender,” Schroeder said. “Both have been starters since their freshmen year.”
Schroeder said he expects Keller Central, Byron Nelson and Ryan to be among the tougher teams to beat this season and said the goals are to finish out games and give the team a shot at making the postseason.
“We have to eliminate mental errors that lead to physical errors, causing goals to be surrendered at key parts of the game,” Schroeder said. “The year 2015 was filled with good soccer for three-fourths of a game; 2016 success will be attained only by playing a full game.”
Girls Ready to Kick It
The year 2015 was a great one for women’s soccer.
The U.S. National team won its third World Cup in spectacular fashion. Soccer fans around the country watched their favorite players compete and succeed at the highest level.
The girls soccer teams of southern Denton County are looking to make a splash in the postseason in 2016 and with some of the state’s best talent returning, that appears to be an attainable goal.
The Marcus girls team finished 8-4-7 on the season in 2015, and were just out of playoff position in fifth place in the district standings.
Coach Chad Hobbs said he believes his team is in good shape to have a stronger showing in 2016.
“The team looks very strong this year,” Hobbs said. “We have eight returning starters from last year’s team. It should be a very successful year for us.”
Hobbs said that he has several players he expects to lead the way for the Lady Marauders this season, including: Peyton Bauman, Taylor Moon, Maddie Algya, Riley Mattingly, Grace Kellner, Kaity Hemperly, Kirsten Penney and Olivia Kovach.
Hobbs said the expectations for the Lady Marauders are the same as always this season; to compete for a district title and make a run at a state championship.
Hobbs said to accomplish those objectives, it will take two things.
“To win state, we will need to first stay healthy; to have all of our players available for games,” Hobbs said. “Second, to play consistently, where we don’t give up anything critical– through personal mistakes—but, we also fully take advantage of our scoring chances.”
Over at Flower Mound, the Lady Jags will also look to get back into the playoffs, after missing them in 2015, and will do so with a new coach.
Misail Tsapos, who led Colleyville Heritage to the 2011 state title match, also led Heritage to a third place finish in District 7 last season; defeating South Grand Prairie 2-0 in bi-district, before losing in the area round to Byron Nelson.
Tsapos is sure to get Flower Mound headed in the right direction soon.
Look for Caitlyn Aaron, Ashlan Hustava, Emily Heckendorn, Christian Perkins and Elena Reyna to lead the way for the Lady Jags this season.
For the Argyle girls soccer team, a second place finish in 5-4A in 2015 meant a first round bye, but the Lady Eagles came up just short in Area to Kennedale. Argyle finished 12-9 on the season.
The Lady Eagles lost district MVP Madison Lee, Allyson Book and Megan Manos, but have a number of strong players returning.
Abbi Neece scored 17-goals for the Lady Eagles last season and Neece is joined by Hannah Gladys, Cami McDaris, Lauren Oellerman, and Makenna White.
Gladys and Oellerman combined for 11 more goals last season.
The Liberty Christian girls soccer team finished 16-9-1 last season, just missing the playoffs by finishing fifth in their district.
Coach Sarah Hawkins said things are looking good for her team heading into this season.
“I’m very excited about my team this year,” Hawkins said. “We have a solid group of seniors who have been playing together for the last three years. They are dedicated to one another and the program and provide great leadership for the underclassmen. We’ve also had a few junior transfers that have immediately added depth to our roster and have filled huge roles in our starting lineup.”
The Lady Warriors have a trio of seniors that she expects to guide the team this season.
“My team is led by our three senior captains: Reagan Mann, Addison Milner and Rachel Beiermann,” Hawkins said. “Currently, Reagan Mann is out, due to an ACL injury last season, but is working hard to rehabilitate and hopefully join the team during playoffs. Addison Milner is a stud goalkeeper who plays ECNL for the Defeaters and has already proved to be a force to be reckoned with.
“Rachel Beiermann is the anchor to our defense and is one of our best 1v1 defenders. She’s smart, patient, and consistent as our center back.”
Hawkins is expecting a top three finish this season for Liberty Christian in district and said to have a successful season, it boils down to three things.
“Discipline, consistency and health,” she said. “If we can remain disciplined throughout the season and play our soccer, we will be successful. It’s all the small things that matter in a game, so every training session we focus on perfecting the small things. We must play with a consistency, regardless of our opponent’s level.
“It’s easy to play down to a lesser opponent’s level, but that’s not what great teams do. We must also remain healthy. We currently have a few key players out with injuries, but hope to have them return before playoffs.”
Up the road at Guyer, the Lady Wildcats are trying to rebound from a difficult 2015 season, in which they missed the postseason; and, will have to do so without Brittany Crabtree.
However, with the return of reigning District 5-6A Utility MVP Ashliegh Lyons, along with Morgan Wessling, Kylie Cobb and Gairy Natividad, the outlook is bright for Guyer.