Misail Tsapos has had a long history with girls soccer at Colleyville Heritage High School, and with a young team on his plate, the future is bright for the Lady Panthers.
CHHS made a postseason trip this past season with seven sophomores in the starting lineup, 11 total and just eight upperclassmen.
“We didn't know what to expect. Our non-district schedule was very competitive, but we learned from every match,” Tsapos said. “They grew up as players and turned in a great district season finishing second.”
Playing with such a young team, it surprisingly wasn't the most challenging for Tsapos. The longtime head coach started at Mansfield High School with six freshmen and three sophomores.
The Lady Panthers can only get better as they move on to a different classification (6A) next season and a core group so comfortable with playing with one another.
“I feel this new district will provide new challenges for us. The quality of play will be a lot better from top to bottom,” Tsapos said. “You can't get away with having bad games, which means that we'll have to raise our play. It's sounds exciting for a coach.”
In eight years at CHHS, Tsapos has gone to the playoffs many times, but with it, come many disappointments. Tsapos is seeking more with the team and new district.
“I like our new district. Everyone plays the same style,” Tsapos said. “For sure, it's a huge upgrade in the facilities, which allows us to do what we try to teach.”
Among the group are twins Erin and Lena Spencer, Tsapos' defensive specialists.
Erin and Lena, who will be juniors next year, have been playing soccer since they were five and have always been on the same team together.
“I love playing with my sister. I'm use to playing with her and think it's a good advantage, because we know how to play together and don't fight,” Lena said.
Every team grows as the season goes on and every player finds chemistry with one another, but for siblings, especially twins, both the Spencer girls have a feel of each other when both are on the field.
“There's an advantage because we are a lot alike, we think the same and connect because we've played for so long,” Erin said.
Since the Lady Panthers will be moving up, it ends the long district rivalry with Grapevine, but Tsapos is excited to face the likes of Southlake Carroll and Coppell High School.
“The Grapevine games were very exciting to be a part of, but I think adding Carroll and Coppell can provide the same type of excitement for our players, coaches and fans,” Tsapos said.
After finishing their district as runner-ups, the Lady Panthers would go on to lose their first game in the playoffs, but it was something to build on.
“Even though we lost our first game, I was honored to make it in my first year on varsity,” Erin said.
“It was awesome because we had such a young roster, but it was cool that we finished second in district,” Lena added. “We have awesome coaches.”
As for the players, the move just brings excitement to showcase what they can do, but at the same time, some nerves kick in because of the level of competition.
“I know both schools [Carroll and Coppell] are tough, but we work together as a team,” Erin said.
“I'm excited because it'll be a challenge. All the teams are really good, but we'll all be juniors and have some freshmen coming up,” Lena added.
During the summer, the team continues to work out and improve with a strength and conditioning program, on top of regular soccer training throughout club programs.
The twins are excited to finish out high school together, but are undecided on their future. They'd like to have the opportunity to go to the same college to play soccer together.
“They are great kids. They work very hard and have earned the respect of teammates and coaches,” Tsapos said. “They each have their own qualities that they bring to the game and each have a high work ethic and love the game so much.”