Nolan Catholic girls soccer team remains focused

Posted Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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The Nolan Catholic girls soccer team is on a mission: to be the first team in 23 years not named Dallas Ursuline to win the TAPPS Division I state soccer title.

History might indicate that all roads lead through Ursuline to claim the trophy, but the Vikings say they aren’t really concerned about the defending champions.

“That’s what’s a little different this year. I don’t think our girls even think about that finals game,” Nolan coach Jay Fitzgerald said. “We don’t think about playing [Ursuline]. We just think about getting to that final game, and we just hope to make it there, because the last two years we haven’t made it there.”

Nolan’s rich soccer history features 15 trips to the state finals, including 12 in a row from 2001 to 2012. But the past two seasons have ended earlier for the Vikings — both at the hands of Houston St. Agnes Academy — which helps Nolan keeps focus on the next game as opposed to unseating Ursuline.

“We had a great season; we won a lot of games and did a lot of great things,” Fitzgerald said. “Our players grew a lot, our program grew a lot. We have local, regional, national recognition and that’s great, but there have been Lady Vikings programs in the past that had all that. We could have this great season and lose the first [playoff] game and then what?”

Included in Nolan’s 22-1-5 record are two regular-season victories against Ursuline, but that has also happened in the past and not translated into a title. So, the Vikings focus less on results and more about tasks at hand.

“We’re consistently progressing and just trying to better ourselves from the year before,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not about ‘Is this the best group we’ve had’ or ‘Is this the best season we’ve had,’ it’s about can we do better than the last game.

“It doesn’t matter what the environment has been this year, we’ve been able to overcome whatever type of situation or adversity is out there,” he added. “We’ve been able to come forward as a group and solve whatever problem has been before us.”

The next obstacle will come in the Vikings’ 2 p.m. Friday bi-district matchup with Houston St. Pius X at Doskocil Stadium, and the team says it will be ready for anything.

“We don’t have a specific way that we play, we just play based on what the situation is,” Fitzgerald said. “I think what makes this team special is that everyone enjoys each other. They understand the game. We’ve been together for a long time, and we truly look forward to being together. I think they look forward to the challenge, maybe more than ever before in the past. They’re all looking forward to the same thing.”

Back on track

After missing the UIL boys playoffs in 2013, Colleyville Heritage (11-4-3, 6-1-2 District 6-5A) is in good shape to get there this season under first-year coach Adam Phillips.

The Panthers were atop the 6-5A standings until suffering their first league loss at the hands of Grapevine on Tuesday, but they still control their own destiny for a district title.

“Originally, I told the seniors that I never want to graduate a class that doesn’t make the playoffs, so that was our goal,” Phillips said. “To win the district, that would be amazing because it’s a tough district.”

Heritage navigated its first eight district games with six wins and a pair of ties, one with current district leader Irving Nimitz. This week’s loss to Grapevine was a reminder that nothing has been earned quite yet.

“A few of the players called it a wake-up game,” Phillips said. “We’re not the state champions, and we haven’t made the playoffs, so it shows we still have to work hard.”

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