With 17 Lady Dragons returning for the 2015 edition of the soccer program, Carroll will look to get back to the state tournament and continue to build on its proud tradition.
Along the way, though, Carroll will again have to face a formidable district schedule in the new 7-6A alignment with the likes of Coppell and Colleyville Heritage.
Last season – which culminated in a state quarterfinals appearance – saw the Lady Dragons running multiple formations and lineups. That flexibility bodes well for this season, as numerous players have experience at more than one position.
Of the 17 returning this year, eight players were starters at some time in the season.
“We’ve got a good crop of players,” said head coach Matt Colvin. “We’ve got a really large roster.”
Colvin noted that last year’s squad scored between 90-95 goals, and with the returning players, the Lady Dragons are recouping about 75 of those goals.
“The experience gives us the ability to get forward and take our chances,” Colvin said of the plan to attack offensively.
Not only do the Lady Dragons have quantity, but quality as well. Colvin said he shouldn’t have issues in filling what open spots are left on the field.
Among those back for another campaign include last year’s leading scorer, Grace Cory.
Cory, a junior forward, is a co-captain and is very good on the ball, Colvin said, and can plug in at multiple spots on the field.
Other forwards returning to help sustain a strong scoring threat are Danielle Dennis and Allie Luna.
Senior midfielder Nicole Sloan brings added experience. Sloan will be starting for her third year and was on the squad’s state finals team in her freshman year.
“Nicole is a very intelligent player in the mid-field,” said Colvin.
Joining Sloan is Allisyn Gardner, an attacking midfielder and a dangerous threat from long distance, Colvin said.
Due to the ebb-and-flow lineups used last year, Carroll saw newer players come on strong as their chances for playing time increased.
Mary Meehan was one such player who made her mark by scoring in the playoff run last year. “Mary was the first off the bench and is very athletic,” Colvin noted.
While the offensive front is attacking, Carroll will also have Jamie Phelps back in goal as keeper.
Phelps started all through last season and registered 20 shut-outs.
“It’s nice to have her coming back,” Colvin said in an understatement.
The flexibility with the talent Carroll has extends to the defense, too.
Defender Kylie McBride is another returner with state finals experience, and sophomore Brittany Martin will develop further as she had an outstanding off-season.
Others who will compete for playing time include Meredith Havens, Sierra Clem, Tabitha Gilpin and Molly Rubac.
“The objective is to find the right combination before district starts,” Colvin said.
“It’s a strange sport. You start on the 28th (of December) but we have six to seven days before the real games begin,” he said. “The preseason is to find the right combination.”
That preseason started with scrimmages on Jan. 2 with Arlington and Grapevine and will start in earnest on Thursday when Carroll helps host the National Elite Prep Showcase along with Nolan Catholic.
Carroll will kickoff the tournament against Arlington Heights and then face Austin Westlake, Madison Central (Mo.) and El Camino Real (Calif.).
The key, though, said the coach, is the 17 seniors on the squad which have been a treat for Colvin to coach.
“They all really came together and they keep the team focused,” he said. “It falls on the seniors and they’ve done an exceptional job.”