Girls Soccer

Aledo girls embrace the unknowns in state soccer tournament

Aledo soccer team ready for state

The 21-3-3 girls team has embraced the underdog role, but a 15-game win streak has the Bearcats ready for the Class 5A state tournament.
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The 21-3-3 girls team has embraced the underdog role, but a 15-game win streak has the Bearcats ready for the Class 5A state tournament.

Aledo coach Bryan Johnson will be the first to tell you that for his girls soccer team, what’s on the surface can be deceptive in assessing his team.

But after allowing just three goals, two against Denton Ryan, the Bearcats have won 15 consecutive games and it’s hard to argue anything with a berth in the UIL state tournament this week in Georgetown.

Aledo (21-3-3) will play Leander Rouse (20-1-4) at noon Thursday in a Class 5A state semifinal at Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex.

Aledo finally climbed into the TopDrawerSoccer.com state rankings at No. 18 this week. Along the way to state the Bearcats beat state-ranked Denton and Lubbock Monterey.

Striker Cameron Huddleston scored a hat trick as the Bearcats defeated Richland, 7-0 in the area round of the soccer playoffs.

“There’s no doubt we’ve been an underdog in just about every playoff game,” Johnson said. “It may have looked easy if you look at the scoring lines, but we had to work for every goal this season.”

And so the Bearcats will attempt to collect the school’s first state title in soccer to go with numerous titles in football, baseball, softball and golf.

Still, managing the ups and downs of a season is one thing that did come rather easy this year.

There’s no doubt we’ve been an underdog in just about every playoff game. It may have looked easy if you look at the scoring lines, but we had to work for every goal this season.

Aledo girls soccer coach Bryan Johnson

“Our starting goalkeeper was injured early in the year and when we realized she was coming back, we weren’t sure how to make that transition because our backup keeper had played very well,” Johnson said.

Instead, the return of junior Mackenzie Covington in goal marked the start of the current win streak with Aledo needing two more wins to earn that elusive state title.

On top of some suffocating defense and play in the net, the offense has been a steady generator as well.

We’ve been talking about the things that we can control and it just points to us being an underdog again. We’re used to it and we thrive like that, but you have to execute and make plays at this stage.

Bryan Johnson

Senior forward Peyton Laughley, who will play at Arkansas-Little Rock next season, has 28 goals and 15 assists this season while Oklahoma State signee Cameron Huddleston has shaken off an injury to record 23 goals and 11 assists.

“We were playing somewhat with just two defenders early on and that wasn’t working,” Johnson said. “We made a switch to get everybody in a more defined role and that kind of opened up the middle for us and got our offense turned up a bit.”

Fighting off the injury bug and working toward an improved offense set up a few season-defining moments. Johnson said his team has met the challenges and faces more Thursday.

“We’ve been talking about the things that we can control and it just points to us being an underdog again,” he said. “We’re used to it and we thrive like that, but you have to execute and make plays at this stage.”

The cheers have faded. The players have put up their pads. And the coaches are getting ready for next season. But Aledo's 2016 journey to State will be etched in their memories forever.

UIL Class 5A Girls semifinals

▪ Dallas Highland Park (25-0) vs. Boerne Champion (16-8-2), 9:30 a.m. Thursday

▪ Leander Rouse (20-1-4) vs. Aledo (21-3-3), noon Thursday

Final: 11 a.m. Saturday

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