Defense to sustain Lady Indians

02/03/2014 12:42 PM

02/03/2014 12:42 PM

This year’s edition of the Keller girls soccer team may not be racking up goals scored, but the players know it’s difficult to lose games if you don’t give up any goals.

The defense has helped them forge a 2-2-4 record in the early season, including a 1-0 win over Northwest and a 4-2 win over Central on Friday.

Head coach Billy Griffiths knew this year’s squad would be young and will need time to gel in order to establish the rapport and playing time together to forge a formidable offense.

Until then, an early season filled with some of the state’s and country’s best talent has filled the Lady Indians’ schedule.

Keller played in the National Elite Prep Showcase and came away with a 0-1-3 record, tying perennial power Flower Mound Marcus, 0-0 and two California teams. Their loss was to Kingwood, 1-0. They also entered the Georgetown Governor’s Cup tournament

Even scrimmages included defending 4A state champion Denton Guyer.

The regional semifinalists from last year graduated 15 seniors, and Griffiths knew the class was special.

Now, eight players return from last year’s squad with one stat being a first for Griffith.

“In my 10 years, I’ve only had two freshmen start,” Griffiths said. “This year, I have four freshmen starting. They are unbelievably talented young players, but it will take them a little time to get going,” he said.

Griffiths didn’t know how good his team will be this year, but he feels confident his early defensive strength is a good sign.

“It’s not that we’re starting over, but there’s a bit of building it back up,” Griffiths said, “I’m happy with the group. We’ve got good defenders and we don’t give up a lot of goals.”

Much of the defensive strength can be traced back to returning goalie Kate Mason. Mason stepped in last year as a junior and carried the load for Keller.

“Anytime you can get out of Marcus with a result like that (0-0 tie), it’s impressive,” Griffiths said. “A lot of that is a credit to Kate.”

Defenders Alyssa Kolvitz and Courtney McKeon are back and the additional year of experience only makes the Lady Indians’ zone more impermeable.

One would think that the focus for Keller is on developing the offense.

But Griffiths doesn’t want to push things too fast. He knows that with a new cast of players, the coordination and rapport will follow. The scoring will come, he said.

“More scoring opportunities is what we’re working on,” Griffiths said, adding that the defense can help set up those opportunities.

“We’re very strong defensively, and I wouldn’t trade that. If you’re scoring a lot but giving up a lot, it’s not what I’d want,” he said.

With the district schedule underway, some scoring will need to begin developing soon, as the district is again loaded with solid talent from top to bottom.

Fossil Ridge awaits Keller on Tuesday with Haltom visiting the Lady Indians on Friday. Next Tuesday will be the first of the big matchups with Carroll at Southlake.

Carroll was the district champion last year but graduated 16, and Central forged its way into the fourth-place spot after beating Keller in the second game of the series. Timber Creek will also be an improved team, Griffiths said.

“We expect it to be a tight district race,” Griffiths said. “To have all four Keller schools in the same district is tough.”

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