In his 25 years of coaching, Colleyville Heritage girls soccer coach Misail Tsapos has presided over 35 ties. About half of those have occurred in the last two years.
Soccer can be like that. The young Lady Panthers (6-6-7, 6-2-4 in District 6-5A) took their share of punishment early in the season. However, they have responded in district play and have clinched a playoff spot with two games remaining. The worst Colleyville Heritage can finish is third.
“I am Mr. Tie,” Tsapos joked. “I start seven sophomores, and it’s been a growing process for us. We don’t give up a lot of goals. But we don’t score a lot either.”
Tsapos said he wanted to keep this team together at the junior varsity level in 2013 because he wanted to create a successful environment. When they would make the transition to the next year, they would be ready to move together.
That has reaped some benefits. This team has seen those sophomores emerge since February in the likes of twins Erin and Lena Spencer, who play defense. Sarah Palmer has played the majority of time at keeper, but sophomore Ellen Walgren has made her contributions as well.
“Erin and Lena will run nine miles per game,” Tsapos said. “They just have such a high soccer IQ that they are willing to do whatever it takes to help us. Sarah has just been pretty consistent for us all season long. But if need Ellen, she will help us.”
Tsapos said he will give his team the first half of this spring break week off and then bring the players back for practices on Thursday and Friday. He wants a fresher team as the final stretch of the season begins.
Playing to a standard
Tsapos has accomplished the mission in his eight years at Colleyville Heritage. He’s taken the team to the postseason. But it has not always been satisfying. There have been some bi-district disappointments.
Without question, this team will have another tough first-round opponent against a district in 5-5A that features Coppell and Flower Mound Marcus. But the opponent shouldn’t matter.
“It’s about playing to a standard,” Tsapos said. “At Colleyville Heritage you are expected to make the playoffs. But we want to go two or three rounds consistently in order to give ourselves a chance to make a run.”
The Lady Mustangs (16-2-3, 12-0 in 6-5A) ran their unbeaten district winning streak to 45 games with shutout victories over Carrollton R.L. Turner and Euless Trinity last week.
Head coach Ryan Davis said he pushed his squad pretty hard in the last two weeks to get it ready for the postseason. But the hard work came with a reward. This team got all of this week off.
“The last two weeks I worked them harder and longer, and depending on their effort they were going to get the week off,” Davis said. “They’ve earned it. But when they come back next week, they’re going to have to find another level of intensity, because the playoffs are a different thing. Their focus has been extremely good. It needs to stay that way.”