Last week saw the start of organized workouts for Mansfield ISD soccer teams with the first games of the season less than a month away.
Here are a few previews of some of the local teams.
Timberview boys: The Wolves are returning 10 players this season, with five of those being regular starters. Timberview finished third in the district last year and made an exit after the bi-district round of the playoffs to Dallas’ Bryan Adams by penalty kicks.
“It left a bitter taste in our mouth,” said Timberview head coach Jason Young of the early departure from the postseason. “We’ve been working hard but it was nice to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. We got a taste for it and we’re hungry to get it again.”
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Helping lead the way for the Wolves is forward Alex Torres. He also was the kicker on the Timberview football team.
“He’s a great kid and has some unbelievable skills and is fun to watch,” Young said of Torres.
Dario Ramirez and Oscar Correa will also be back which should help add experience and defense.
The early focus will be on filling open slots left by graduated key players, including at goalkeeper.
“We have some gelling to do but we’ve got some key guys coming back, and fitting the right pieces in to get on the same page is our goal,” Young said.
Although there will be tournaments at the outset of the season to gain experience and chemistry, the district slate will be the tough stretch.
“There are no pushovers in this district,” Young said. “Every game is important and critical.”
Lake Ridge may be the team to beat, Young said, “but you never know. That’s why you play the game.”
Timberview will have a tri-scrimmage on Jan. 2, for the fifth year, with Longview Pinetree.
Summit girls: The Lady Jaguars are coming off a disappointing season but will benefit by a return of 13 varsity players. There should also be a few freshmen making regular starts for Summit.
“I'm excited about this year because the girls’ attitudes and work ethics are off the charts,” said Summit head coach Kirby Davis.
Summit may be as competitive as anyone in the tough District 14-5A, with the usual coach caveat: “As with last year, if we can stay healthy we can battle for a play-off spot,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, last year, we never played with less than five starters on the bench. Hope springs eternal and we have some talent,” he added.
Mansfield girls: Mansfield finished third in District 8-6A and then lost in the bi-district round to Southlake Carroll, but it may have been its best-played game of the season, said head coach George Velten.
“Hopefully we can build off of that,” Velten said. “To match that we will need to have a better performance in district. Finishing third is not good enough for Mansfield and the tradition that they have built here, so that will be our number one focus – trying to move up the district standings.”
Certainly, a better seed can only benefit in the pairings for the playoffs.
The Lady Tigers will return seven players after graduating 13 seniors last year.
Velten commented that the seven returning players all have seen playing time as starters and they are enthusiastic in the early practices.
Six of those players picked up some form of all-district honors (first or second team or honorable mention).
Like most teams, the early games will be to get the team in sync and play as a unit.
“We want to play fast and play immediate defense to put pressure on other teams,” Velten said, “so we will have to be organized and fit, and everyone will need to be on the same page.”
Mansfield will have its Black and Gold game on Jan. 2 and will start at Legacy on Jan. 5.