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 arent really concerned about the defending champions.
Thats whats a little different this year. I dont think our girls even think about that finals game, Nolan coach Jay Fitzgerald said. We dont 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 havent made it there.
Nolans 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 thats 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 Nolans 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.
Were consistently progressing and just trying to better ourselves from the year before, Fitzgerald said. Its not about Is this the best group weve had or Is this the best season weve had, its about can we do better than the last game.
It doesnt matter what the environment has been this year, weve been able to overcome whatever type of situation or adversity is out there, he added. Weve 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 dont 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. Weve 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. Theyre 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 doesnt make the playoffs, so that was our goal, Phillips said. To win the district, that would be amazing because its 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 weeks 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. Were not the state champions, and we havent made the playoffs, so it shows we still have to work hard.
Coach Jay Fitzgerald and Nolan Catholic are 22-1-5 with two victories over Dallas Ursuline, but they are not satisfied.
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