With soccer season just around the corner, the names of goalkeepers Leach and Bump will figure prominently into any discussion regarding deep playoff runs for the Flower Mound boys and Marcus girls soccer teams; and, the similarities between the two athletes are striking.
The two goalkeepers are both juniors, both started playing soccer in Kindergarten and both are among the two best players in the state at their position.
Landon Leach helped Flower Mound get to its first-ever State Championship in the sport of boys soccer last season and was named MVP of the State Tournament.
“He deserved the award over everyone else,” Jaguars coach David Doyle said. “He saved a penalty kick in the regional semifinal shootout that won the game. He saved a PK in the state final, just after halftime and saved another one in the shootout. He pulled-off a great reflex save during the first half of the final to keep the game at 0-0.”
And the list goes on.
Leach was an All-State selection in just his sophomore year and earned three shutouts in the postseason in 2019.
“What makes him so special is that he makes the big save at important times in the game,” Doyle said.
Flower Mound defeated Byron Nelson, Duncanville, Dallas W.T. White, Arlington Bowie and Grand Prairie to reach the State Tournament last year. It then took down Alief Elsik in the state semifinals and San Antonio Lee in the state championship game.
Leach, 17, said he still has a hard time taking it all in.
“It’s surreal, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before and it’s really so much better because of my teammates,” Leach said. “They meant so much to me. They were leaders I looked up to, respected and enjoyed playing with. It was an amazing year.”
Leach said he was honored to be MVP, but was quick again to give credit to his teammates.
“I had a good game at a crucial time, but so did the guys in front of me,” Leach said. “I couldn’t have done it without them. My defense laid it on-the-line every game. I feel the MVP Award was really for all of us.”
Leach said last season was very special for the Flower Mound soccer program, but added that he believes this year’s team can pick up where last year’s team left off.
“I think it takes a group of men that believe in each other and in one goal,” Leach said. “Last year we all bought-in on the idea of winning it all. Even after we lost a string of games in a row, we still knew and believed we could win it all and we did. This year, as long as our team plays for each other, believes in each other and trusts each other, the sky is the limit.”
Over at Marcus, Rachel Bump, also an All-State selection in just her sophomore year, helped the Lady Marauders to a second place finish in district 6-6A, with 10 shutouts during the regular season.
Marcus finished 19-5-2 overall on the season and coach Chad Hobbs said, besides setting the tone for a stingy defense, she sets a good example for her fellow teammates.
“Rachel had a great year for us in the goal last season,” Hobbs said. “She has very good hands and is very athletic, which allows her to be extremely effective. She always comes to practice with a positive attitude and is very coachable.”
The Marcus junior was voted District Goalkeeper of the Year last season. Hobbs said the thing that separates Bump from other keepers, like Leach, is that she’s “clutch.”
“I think what makes Rachel special is her ability to make key saves in important moments,” Hobbs said. “Her contributions last season kept us in several games and helped lift us to victory. She is very confident in her abilities and is always ready to help her team in pressure situations. All of her teammates play with more confidence knowing that she in on the field.”
For Bump, 16, the 2019 season had its ups and downs, but– for the most part– was a positive step in the right direction.
“Despite the disappointing end, we had a great season, finishing second in District,” Bump said. “We worked hard and I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
Bump added it was a great honor to be named to the All-State team in 2019 and said her genesis with the sport of soccer came about in an interesting way.
“I started playing when I was five-years-old,” Bump said. “We had a family rule that we had to play a team sport, so after trying softball, my parent’s friends suggested we join a rec soccer team that their daughter was on. I’ve been playing ever since.”
The Flower Mound teen said that she loves everything about playing goalkeeper and that honestly, she would not want to play any other position.
“Not even scoring the game-winning goal beats the feeling you get after making a save,” Bump said. “When everything’s on the line and a goal could make or break a game, being there to help my team is the most amazing feeling.”