When Fort Worth Paschal goalkeeper Thomas Mizzera showed up to try out before the season, coach Mark Townsend didnt know anything about him.
Its understandable considering that last season Mizzera was playing for a different school in Poland.
He showed up in class and didnt tell me very much, Townsend said. He did say he was a [goal]keeper, so we put gloves on him [during an indoor training session] and right away he was making these incredible saves, jumping off the ground, diving on the hard gym floor. Most people dont do that. Right away I saw something there.
Mizzera was born in Fort Worth, but spent most of his early years in his parents native home of Poland. He returned here for middle school, but spent last year in Poland, where he played goalkeeper only occasionally. Because of that, he wasnt sure what position he wanted to play at Paschal.
When I first came in, I was actually thinking about trying out as a striker or a midfielder, he said. But after I saw the way they played and how good they were, I was like, Yeah, I should just try out for keeper. It got me to where I am now, so Im happy with it.
It wasnt long before Mizzera was named the starter, and as he and the Panthers defense have jelled and improved over the season, so has Paschals position in the standings. In a second-place tie with Arlington, the Panthers are 13-8-1 overall and 6-2-4 in District 3-5A.
It starts with the keeper; you can do really good things with a decent keeper, Townsend said. Once I saw him doing these things, my assistant coach, who is also the keeper coach, we looked at each other and we knew we had something here.
He didnt think he was very good in Poland, but over here hes phenomenal, he added.
Mizzera feels like hes finally growing into his role with the Panthers.
At the beginning I was tense and nervous before every game, Mizzera said. It took me a bit of time to actually get some leadership and gain the respect of the guys but Ive played pretty decently over the season, and I feel like Im actually in my place now.
A wake-up call
After defeating Aledo 1-0 on March 8, the Saginaw Boswell girls were in position to win the District 12-4A title when they hiccuped in their penultimate regular-season game against Mineral Wells last week, ultimately leaving them the second seed from 12-4A.
That was a really tough one for the girls to take, coach James McCarry said.
In 14 district games, the Pioneers allowed only four goals, yet were unable to clinch the title. Still, McCarry thinks the team can use that to their advantage.
Personally I think it was one of the best things for us, he said. It snapped the girls into reality and showed them that they have to play 100 percent every single match no matter who it is and never take one step of the game lightly.
Boswells road through the playoffs wont be an easy one. District 12-4A matches up with 13-4A, which most agree is the toughest 4A district in the state.
Thats a state championship tournament every week, McCarry said of 13-4A powers Birdville, Lake Dallas, Denton Guyer and Trophy Club Nelson.
Boswell has drawn Birdville as its bi-district opponent for the second consecutive year. The Hawks eliminated the Pioneers 3-1 last season.
[This matchup] is an advantage for us because of the way we lost last year, McCarry said. We made just three mistakes and they scored three goals. Our girls realize that theyre capable. I dont think they even see themselves as an underdog in this instance. I think they see themselves capable of winning this game.
To be determined
Anyone familiar with the boys teams in District 4-5A probably wouldnt be surprised to know that with one game left in the district schedule, none of the top four seeds is nailed down.
While the four teams that will advance to the postseason Southlake Carroll, Keller, Keller Central and Richland are decided, any of the four still has a mathematical chance to claim the district title.
The parity in this district has proven to be what it is, and that is here we are with one game left and it just comes down to this, Keller coach Jason Bates said.
Carroll is in the best position to earn the championship, with 29 points and facing a Haltom squad that has just one district victory thus far. But on the Dragons heels, Keller and Central both have 28 points and Richland is only a point back of them at 27. Keller and Richland face off Friday night, while Central faces Justin Northwest.
Its not surprising at all, Bates said. All these teams are very good teams. Everybody has got to win and do your job and somebody is going to come out with a championship.
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