Maybe Misail Tsapos should wear a tie on the sideline next time he coaches the Colleyville Heritage girls soccer team.
This is a program that has participated in more than its share of draws over the past three years. Regardless, the Lady Panthers (9-4-5, 5-3-2 in District 7-6A) are still going where they want to go: the postseason. In his 26 years of coaching high school soccer between Mansfield, Justin Northwest and Colleyville Heritage, Tsapos has taken a team to the postseason 24 times.
Colleyville Heritage clinched a playoff berth last week for the ninth consecutive year under his leadership. The Lady Panthers can’t climb any further. As the soccer season reached spring break, the top two seeds belong to district leader Coppell and Carroll.
“[The ties] have been like that for the past few years,” said Tsapos, who reached 100 career wins at Colleyville Heritage earlier this year. “I hit 78 wins in the first six years here. But the last two and a half years has been something. But the important thing is that we are remaining consistent, and we keep finding a way. This is a good year.”
Colleyville Heritage should finish third. It had 17 points. Euless Trinity was in fourth with 10 points, while Hurst L.D. Bell was in fifth. “Should” is the operative word, because Colleyville Heritage only has two games to play. Bell and Trinity have three games to play, including a very important meeting with each other during spring break week. That is a game being made up because of the recent winter weather.
Tsapos calls this team very organized with a high soccer IQ. It starts from the back line of junior Jayden Thompson, sophomore Jannelle Griffin and senior Stacy York.
The Tsapos way of doing business is that the strength of the teams works its way from the back toward the front. This team will not score a lot of goals. It has to pick its opportunities and then capitalize. Midfielder Jasmyn Sollars, who moved in from Maryland, has provided a spark.
“The way the system is designed is that we are going to defend and then win by creating situations with numbers up and spreading teams wide,” Tsapos said. “We’re doing that because we can create change. The only thing we haven’t done is finish as much as I hoped we would.”
Colleyville Heritage’s season has seen a highlight win over private-school power Fort Worth Nolan (a team that played in the TAPPS semifinals) and there were two solid performances against Carroll in losses. The odd loss was a 1-0 setback to Northwest Byron Nelson, which is led by Tsapos’ daughter Katina.
“I didn’t talk to her for a week,” he joked. “But I was proud of the fact that she played a near-perfect game. They scored with three minutes left to beat us.”
Not black and white
The same two keepers return in juniors Ellen Walgren and Sarah Palmer. In 2014, Palmer established herself as the frontrunner. This year, that’s not the case. Both have seen time in the box.
“They’ve been even, so I’m giving both a look,” Tsapos said. “Ellen is taller and a little better in the air. Sarah is a little stronger on the ground. I’m probably going to look at it in the last week (against Coppell and Richland) to see how we want to do this for the playoffs.”
The Lady Mustangs (16-2-1, 10-0 in District 6-5A) haven’t missed a beat under first-year coach Steve McBride. They are going back to the playoffs. They played an important game Tuesday against Birdville during spring break. A win would clinch the district championship.