If there’s anything Northwest V.R. Eaton girls soccer coach Stephen Morris can claim over his fellow head coaches at the school, it is bragging rights.
Of course, he’s not going to rub it in. However, Morris created history as his program was the first in school history to qualify for a varsity postseason. The Lady Eagles (12-6, 10-4 in District 6-5A) finished in a tie for second place with Justin Northwest. However, because of goal differential, they are the No. 3 seed.
Eaton opens the playoffs against Wichita Falls at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Mineral Wells. Eaton played a junior varsity schedule in 2016.
Morris, a disciple of Flower Mound head coach Misail Tsapos, one of the top girls soccer coaches in the state, learned a lot about how to organize a team and season and handle players.
“I don’t think you can ever feel like you’re never going to stop learning being around someone like Misail,” Morris said. “It’s nice to be the first program to make the playoffs. But I think what we’ve done will be something that the rest of the teams in our school will do. There’s a lot of talent at this school.”
Like all of the other sports that began with no seniors, the adjustment from the junior varsity schedule to the varsity schedule created its own set of concerns. The game was going to be faster. The play was going to be more physical. The competition was going to be more intense.
Eaton learned the hard way when it opened 6-5A play falling to Saginaw Boswell, 2-0. It wasn’t that close.
“We had some opportunities early but then they wound up pounding us,” Morris said. “Overall, it was a wake-up call for us. And that’s fine. It told our team that this was a different kind of soccer and that we had to adjust or let it get the better of us.”
Then this team, which carries 18 on the roster, ran off five consecutive wins. Later, the Lady Eagles handed district champion Aledo its only district loss. That created confidence.
“When you have that kind of success, you can do a lot of things with your team,” Morris said. “Really, I was hoping for fourth place when we began the season. So to do what we did to this point is more than what I could have imagined.”
The offense has grown. Freshman forward Cassidy Savoy turned into the team’s leading scorer with 12 goals and five assists. Freshman Chloe Seltzer has nine goals and four assists. Sophomore center midfielder Landree Yocom is at eight goals but leads the team with nine assists.
The defense has been pretty stingy. Junior keeper Madelyn Rea has collected seven shutouts and has had help from sophomore center back Sophia Henzler and junior center back Kayla Davis.
“It’s going to be about who you play on a given night, but I would prefer to win a game 1-0 instead of 6-5,” Morris said. “I feel like we’ve done some really good things for a first year. But I don’t want us to be just happy to make the playoffs. I want us to take advantage of this time.”