For the past couple of weeks and into this weekend, high school soccer tournaments around the Metroplex are giving coaches an opportunity to get a read on their teams as they approach district play, which for most schools begins Tuesday.
The Saginaw Boswell girls have made the playoffs five consecutive seasons, but still face a depth issue each year.
Pioneers coach James McCarry knows he must replace key players each season, and this year is no different. McCarry expects three freshmen to fill key roles this season, and two of them also play basketball, so the tournaments give the newest Pioneers a great opportunity to build chemistry with the team.
"It gives me a chance to watch them in action," he said. "I really hadn't had a chance to see them yet, so [the tournament] allowed me to see what kind of depth I had."
Boswell won all four of its games last weekend at the Brewer Bear Cave Classic.
McCarry expects freshmen Aubrey Leveling, Taylor Stohler and Payton Parker to all start and get significant playing time in 2013.
"We were able to utilize what we've been working on in previous practice sessions, and I was able to see them grow individually," McCarry said. "And I can't do that without a tournament where we're playing four games in three days.
"That's just a wonderful opportunity for me to watch those girls develop."
Trinity boys take title
The Euless Trinity boys won the championship of the Kyle Fritz Memorial tournament, hosted last week Keller Central. The Trojans defeated Birdville in a shootout after a scoreless regulation in the final. Stepping up big was first-year varsity goalkeeper Ian Reyes, who stopped two of the five shots in the shootout to decide the championship.
"I thought our keeper came up big. For a little guy he came up much bigger than he looks in the shootout," Trinity coach Tracy Duren said. "The boys all but carried him off the field after he came up big there."
Like most coaches, Duren finds the tournaments a great chance to see his team grow.
"It's a level of competition you can't reproduce in the off-season," he said. "In 19 years of doing this, I've never gone to a tournament and not learned something about my team and not had them learn something about themselves."
Still, Duren knows tournament success doesn't always translate into the regular season and beyond.
"While I'm certainly happy with their success, these preseason games count for nothing when it comes to making the playoffs, so we've never discussed wins and losses. All we've discussed is game improvement. Most teams are tying to find themselves. You have to make sure you're as polished up and ready to go when district play starts."
Finding an identity
Heading into last weekend's Rebel Roundup, Weatherford boys coach Efren Martinez was still learning about his squad.
"I'm still trying to find an identity for my team," he said. "I knew we had talent and I wanted to take them to a tournament I knew would be a challenge to get them to let that talent shine."
The Kangaroos won just one of their games at the roundup, but Martinez thinks they learned a lot, which showed in their nondistrict game on Tuesday against Midlothian.
"We discussed a lot of our weaknesses and what we need to work on, but we looked at the positives as well, and it showed Tuesday night."
The Roos managed a 0-0 draw with Midlothian, a team that Martinez admits is probably better than his own.
"Our boys finally showed grit and showed heart and we matched them shot for shot and we had a chance to win, so I think we learned a lot from that tournament last weekend."
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