Tigers duo named to ‘Super Team’

Posted Monday, Jun. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A pair of Mansfield soccer players were recently named to the Star-Telegram Super Team. Junior McKayla Paulson and sophomore Chase Lankford were recognized by the newspaper for the seasons they had.

Mansfield girls coach Jay Zeller wasn’t surprised that Paulson was included among the elite players in the area.

“I’m not surprised at all,” he said. “She’s a great player, but what most people don’t see is the character and kind of person behind the player. As good as she is on the field, she’s that much better off the field. She’s a special kid to have in the program.”

Paulson was also recognized as the Player of the Year in District 7-5A.

“There’s a certain level of expectations, but you’re never kind of surprised by some of the things she does because it’s just the type of person and player she is,” Zeller added. “She came up huge for us in a couple of games where we just couldn’t find the net, but we’d move her into certain areas and she’d help us out on the field and, bam, all of a sudden we’re up 1-0 and we close it out. Those are the kinds of things that are nice to have in your back pocket.”

Paulson was included on the Super Team as a defender, but her versatility allows her to be used in many other ways.

“She is by nature a defender and I suspect that’s what she’ll do at Texas A&M,” Zeller said. “For us, she started off her freshman and sophomore year as an outside back and played a little center back. She was an outstanding player there. We developed and kind of matured as a team and didn’t really have that need, so we played her more on the attacking side.

“Playing in the midfield and the experience she’s got has made her a little bit more of a versatile player and has given more attacking experience that she may not have got otherwise,” he added. “I kind of anticipate using her a little more in the midfield next year.”

In addition to versatility, Paulson exhibits consistency, Zeller said.

“She’s just good, game in and game out. She does what she’s asked to do and she demands a lot of herself. She challenges herself, whether it’s practice or games or the classroom or whatever she does. She’s just one of those people that’s going to achieve.

On the boys’ side, Lankford’s sophomore season was already his second with the varsity. Clearly, his impact is being noticed. In addition to earning a spot on the Super Team, Lankford was named the Midfielder of the Year in 7-5A.

“He gets out there and he creates so much havoc,” Tigers coach John Fazekas said. “He’s got great speed and good ball-handling skills, but more than anything else, his desire is second to none and he wins so many balls because of that.”

Having gained experience at the varsity level as a freshman, Fazekas expected Lankford to be an integral part of the Tigers’ plans this past season.

“With his field vision and his skills on the ball, he can get himself into a good position or get himself out of a bad situation and find an open man pretty easily,” Fazekas said. “We’re going to count on him next year not only for assists, but to put the ball in the back of the net as well.

“He can play midfield for us; he can play forward for us. I think the thing we’re going to look for now is his leadership,” he added. “Kids respect him and like what he does out there. He’s fun-loving, but I need him to become a vocal leader out there. He’s more of a lead-by-example guy. He’s a small kid, but he gets out there and plays like he’s six feet tall and 180 pounds. He goes 100 miles per hour out there, and the other kids see that and that pumps them up and gets them ready to go as well. He packs a lot for a small player.”

Lankford was one of only two sophomores named to the Star-Telegram Super Team.

“He was only a sophomore, and for him to be the midfield player of the year in our district was pretty phenomenal,” Fazekas said.

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