With a relatively young roster, the Mansfield girls soccer team officially kicked off its 2016 campaign last week, and the early returns are positive.
The Lady Tigers posted impressive wins against Legacy in a scrimmage and Rowlett it the season opener before falling to Allen. Head coach George Velten was extremely pleased with what he saw in the 4-1 result against Legacy.
“We hadn’t seen anybody, so I was a little bit nervous going into the game because I didn’t know how we were going to handle it,” Velten said. “But they were absolutely ready for it and played lights out, and it was the best game the team has played for me since I’ve been here.”
The team could be excused for taking some time to gel. Overall, seven lettermen return from last season, but the addition of five JV players as well as a pair of move-ins, combined with three freshman call-ups, means there’s plenty of chemistry to be developed.
Kendall Boyd, who transferred in from Chicago, gives Velten an option at both ends of the field. She’s been splitting time in goal and in attack, where she was the club’s leading scorer with four goals in the first two matches.
Sharing time with Boyd in goal is one of those three freshmen, Hannah Hatfield. Velten hopes she can progress into a full-time starting role that will allow Boyd to remain a constant threat up top. All three freshmen, including Peyton Jameson and Rachel Downey, can expect to see valuable minutes.
“If they’re going to be with us, they’re going to play,” Velten said. “All three are really doing well and deserve a varsity shirt. I’m real proud of them. The speed of play is a lot faster than they’re used to, but they’re getting used to it and settling in.”
Not many teams play two state champions in a week’s time, but the Lady Tigers could do that this week. Mansfield hosts reigning 4A state champion Kennedale on Tuesday, and is trying to arrange a matchup with Wylie East – the defending 5A state champion – on Friday.
The teams were supposed to meet last Saturday, but the game was canceled due to weather. Both have an open date on Friday and are hoping logistics fall into place. Either or both will provide the Lady Tigers a solid measuring stick early in the season.