The Central girls soccer team is off to a great start. Their 3-3-1 preseason record belies the truth. This is a team that has recovered from their postseason loss to Arlington Martin last year to beat Martin twice in preseason play this year and set its sights on the playoffs again.
Helping make that goal a reality are the team’s five senior captains.
“The girls were voted by their peers to be captains because of their leadership,” said head coach Ray Martinez. “They are all leaders on the field and all lead by example.”
Seniors Carrington Elliott, Allie Kautzman, Emily DuPriest and Hope Smith have been on varsity together since they were freshmen. Kristina Schulz joined them her sophomore year. Their combined experience is critical to the team’s success.
“As a group they bring the team together on and off of the field,” said Martinez. “They are able to push each other and their other teammates to give their best effort.”
The Lady Chargers have nine seniors and a large group of incoming freshmen.
“We have five freshmen this year, and one of our biggest challenges is having everyone mesh together,” said outside midfielder Smith. “They are new to the school and the program.”
Martinez already sees improvement.
“From last year to this year there has been a big turnaround as far as team unity is concerned,” he said.
“We’ve done a pretty good job bringing in our freshmen this year,” Schulz said. “Our chemistry has been really good and I think we are going to do big things.”
Kautzman, an outside midfielder, said she is proud of her role as captain.
“It’s an honor that the other girls would choose me to be one of the captains to lead the team this year,” she said.
Forward Elliott felt the same.
“It felt good to be chosen because I knew they looked up to me and wanted me as a leader,” she said.
Smith takes her role as captain seriously.
“We are really working on communication this year,” she said. “Having five captains, we can really amplify that.”
The whole team feels the influence of one captain, defender DuPriest.
“Having five captains is important because one of us is hurt. She is out for her whole senior season,” Smith said. “To have her (DuPriest) be cheering us on from the sideline is great for our team.”
“(DuPriest) is a big motivator on the side for the other girls,” Elliott said.
With the support of their fellow captain and a team that grows closer each week, the Lady Chargers are focusing on the next phase of the season.
“We have had a chance to play tougher teams than usual during the preseason which has really helped us prepare for district,” Elliott said. “We have been able to work together and compete against high-level teams.”
“For me it’s personal, after losing in the first round of playoffs last year,” Schulz said. “It makes you want to work that much harder to end the season with a playoff win. I’m really excited for district play to get started.”
Several of the Lady Chargers will continue their soccer careers in college next year, Schulz at University of Houston and Smith at Mississippi College. Others view their senior seasons with mixed emotions.
“It is bittersweet for me,” Elliott said. “I’ve formed a lot of friendships with the other players and coaches over the last four years, but I am also moving on to a new chapter of my life, which is exciting.”
“I’m going to miss it,” Kautzman said. “I want to go out with a bang and make it as far as we can.”
The Lady Chargers open district play Jan. 28 at home against Southlake Carroll.