Mansfield Sports

Short non-district schedule impacts teams

One aspect of high school soccer in Texas is that there isn’t a lot of time to prepare for district play, especially if you find yourself in a nine-team district like 14-5A. The first date for games under UIL guidelines this year was Jan. 8. Most of the teams in 14-5A started district competition just five days later, on Jan. 13.

Such a limited opportunity for time on the field together can impact teams differently, as evidenced by the fortunes thus far of the Lake Ridge and Summit girls teams.

Lake Ridge, a more veteran team expected to challenge for the district title, is right where it wants to be after six games in 14-5A play – in first place with a 5-0-1 record. Only Waxahachie and Legacy stand in the way of an undefeated first half of district play.

“I think that’s something that’s motivating them at this point. They want to be on top [of the standings] after the first half of district,” head coach Kim Wallace said. “So they’re definitely working to pull off those two wins.”

Summit, meanwhile, is off to a 1-4-1 start, and has found the net in just one of those games, its 2-0 victory over Ennis.

“We knew it might be a struggle,” coach Kirby Davis said. “A lot of young kids are getting a chance to play and we’re kind of looking at next year already.”

The Lady Jaguars’ lack of depth and experience has hampered progress, along with a rash of injuries. The squad lacks a consistent scoring threat to balance out its sturdy defense.

“This has been one of the better defenses I’ve ever coached,” Davis contends. “I’m as proud of this team as I am of teams that have won 20 games. They’ve worked their butts off and play so tough. There are better times ahead and I’ve just told them to play the Summit way. I told them there have been girls before you that won and lost, but they all played with a certain attitude, and we’ve got to keep that attitude.”

Alternatively, Lake Ridge has the luxury of building its depth over the course of the regular season. By virtue of dominating games and getting early leads, Wallace is able to put young players on the pitch for valuable minutes and still add to the win column.

“Let’s say one of my starters does get hurt,” Wallace said. “When I throw that (young) kid in, are they going to be able to deal with the pace of a varsity game? Especially some of my freshmen. So whenever I get an opportunity to get some girls in that don’t normally get a lot of playing time, I’m definitely going to use it so they do get some experience.”

This was the case in recent shutout wins over Lancaster and Arlington Seguin, where a number of starters were able to rest as youngsters powered the team to 9-0 and 4-0 victories. Wallace knows there is still plenty of soccer left to be played, though.

“We do have some things we need to work on,” she added. “We’re coming together nicely. We are where I would want us to be, but we still have some hurdles to get over to be at that level we want to be at for the playoffs.”