Thursday, February 2, 2023

Lady Jags soccer optimistic for 2021 after stellar year cut short

The Flower Mound Lady Jags promising soccer season was cut short. (Photo by Joe Lorenzini)

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Flower Mound girls soccer team was having one of its best seasons, with one of the most interesting and accomplished group of players and coaches in school history.

The Lady Jags were 18-0-4, ranked fourth overall among 6A programs in the state and appeared to be primed to make a run at the state tournament when the season was suspended on March 13th.

The Flower Mound girls won a state championship four years ago, and coach Misail Tsapos said this year’s team felt like it was ready to make some noise in the postseason as well.

“Obviously, we felt good going into the playoffs,” Tsapos said. “We were healthy, and our quality of play was very good. We were confident that we would have a good run.”

And there was no reason to think otherwise.

The Flower Mound squad included the District MVP (Abby Smith), the District Defensive Player of the Year (Madison Schott), the 6-6A Newcomer of the Year (Skye Leach) and Tsapos, himself, who was the District 6-6A Coach of the Year.

The Lady Jaguars had not lost a game and only allowed a total of seven goals all season long.

“This is one the most talented teams I’ve had in my 32 years of coaching high school soccer,” Tsapos said. “It was not the most athletic, but very skilled players with high soccer IQs. It was fun to coach them. They understood our tactics and how to use them on the field. We had teams trying to figure us out and in most cases they could not figure out our movement and rotations.”

Abby Smith, 18, who is also a member of the US Futsal National Team, said during her time at Flower Mound no other team compared to the 2020 squad.

“This was the strongest season that we have had in my four years at Flower Mound,” Smith said. “Our talent, work ethic, and determination was through the roof. I believe that we truly had a chance at state this year. I am extremely proud of what we did get accomplished as a team this season.”

Beginning at the age of seven, Smith played with the 6-6A Offensive Player of the Year Olivia Hasler of Hebron and Keeper of the Year Lauren Kellett of Coppell, for a club team called the Rowdies, a team players had to be invited to join.

The Rowdies fed into a club program to which all three girls were accepted called The Texans that was coached by current TCU assistant coach Ryan Higginbotham.

While Hasler and Kellett both committed to TCU, Smith opted for LSU, but said their friendship is something she believes will last the rest of their lives.

“I played with Lauren and Olivia from when we were in first grade up until freshman year,” Smith said. “Our friendships will definitely last a lifetime, and playing with them was so great because of our strong team chemistry with one another. I decided to go to LSU because of the coaches, players, and the culture surrounding the school. It was a place where as soon as I stepped on campus, I knew that it was the place for me.”

The Lady Jaguars also feature two sets of identical twins on the team, Hannah and Hallie Augustyn and Paige and Bailey Slaughter, have a player (Smith) whose father, Kyle Smith, is also the assistant principal of Marcus High School, and Tsapos, their head coach, is a top level referee.

Tsapos said when he reflects on the season as a whole and his senior players in particular, he would like for there to be one big takeaway.

“How fun it could be if the game is played the right way,” Tsapos said. “Possession soccer is fun to watch and play, especially when dealing with teams that depend on speed and strength.”

Tsapos said that in spite of the difficulty of not finishing out the season, the 2020 season will never be forgotten and there is a lot to look forward to.

“We lost our special season,” Tsapos said. “The sad part for me is I lose good senior players and people that were dedicated to me and to the FMHS program. The great part is I return eight starters and pick up two and maybe three additions that will keep this team very competitive and will go at it again.”

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