When the Lake Ridge girls soccer team laid out its goals prior to the season, the primary objective was to win district. Check.
Icing on the cake would be to surpass last year’s run to the third round of the playoffs. The Lady Eagles’ cake had icing.
By virtue of a 2-1 win over Waxahachie in the regional quarterfinals last Tuesday, Lake Ridge punched its first-ever ticket to the regional tournament. Not bad for a school only in its third year, and a program that two seasons ago won just three matches.
“I’m very proud,” said senior midfielder Renee Nguyen. “The first year was hard for us, but after that we started building chemistry. Everything started to come together.”
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Sure, the Lady Eagles’ first regional tournament could have gone better; Lake Ridge lost the semifinal matchup with Frisco 3-0. But you won’t hear anyone in green disappointed with their effort.
“They worked hard the entire time; I was very proud of them,” coach Kim Wallace said. “They kept fighting and digging deep.”
Frisco, which like Lake Ridge entered the game undefeated, seemed to have a number of advantages. Two were mentioned repeatedly by Lady Eagles players.
“Speed. They definitely had a lot more speed than us,” said junior captain Ashton Peeks. “And height. They won a lot of balls in the air.”
“They had a lot of height. Stronger and faster,” sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Lampe added. “I feel like we played with a little more heart. I know my team and we trust in each other, but that was a great team we faced.”
Frisco, also a more seasoned group, took advantage of its strengths.
“They played a different style of soccer,” Wallace said. “We normally play through our midfield, but they kind of bypassed the midfield. The defenders played it on to the forwards. Their forwards had a lot of speed. They were just bigger, more physical girls than us.”
“We possessed the ball well when we got control of it,” Peeks added. “But once they got it, they had the speed to get around us.”
Despite the loss, it was easy for coaches and players to see the positives.
“I told the girls to look at the bright side of it,” Wallace said. “They were hurt, of course, and sad their season ended, but I told them the only real goal we had was to win district. We by far bypassed that.”
In the record books, Lake Ridge finished the campaign 17-1-5 and as District 14-5A champions. The team set a new milestone by reaching the fourth round of the playoffs. Three senior players – all transplants from Timberview – have been a part of everything this program has been through.
“Just to see the transformation in them, coming from a program that was run one way and then having to adjust to a new coach. Pretty amazing on their part,” Wallace said.
Nguyen is one of those senior, three-year players.
“It’s my senior year so it really just meant a lot,” she said. “I really wanted to go far my senior year and I’m so happy we were able to get past the third round. I feel really accomplished and I’m really proud to get to do this with the team.”
And this young program has higher ambitions still.
“I feel like I haven’t had to coach as much this year,” Wallace said. “We had two years under our belt, so the girls are used to me and they know how everything runs. They just kind of kept each other in line, which is awesome. I think the foundation is set and that we can only get better.”
“I am super excited because I know we have a lot of potential,” said Lampe, who has two years remaining with the Lady Eagles. “The main thing that keeps our team strong and together is that we don’t have any drama. No matter what, we are sisters and family, and don’t let anything come between us.”
Wallace agrees, and told her team as much as the 2015 Lady Eagles officially put the season to rest.
“The girls have a lot of chemistry. Just their camaraderie and love for each other, it’s amazing,” she said. “I told them I have never coached a team like them. They truly love each other. They don’t bicker about playing time. They genuinely want to win and get better every day. I don’t think I could ask for much more than that.”