Allen head girls soccer coach Kelly Thompson thinks the depth of her Lady Eagles might be the strongest of her tenure with the program, and that wealth of options has shined plenty during two unbeaten tournament runs to begin the 2021 season.
Allen exited the week at 7-0 overall, including a 2-0 stint at the Andie Studley Memorial Showcase Jan. 7-9 in Wylie and three wins at the Allison Horn Showcase, held Thursday-Saturday in Colleyville.
In Wylie, the Lady Eagles picked up wins over Rowlett (7-1) and Rockwall-Heath (3-1). In Colleyville, Allen bested Rockwall (4-0), Southlake Carroll (1-0) and Plano East (4-1).
Across the Lady Eagles’ double-digit goal tally in Wylie, six different players found the back of the net at least once during the team’s two games in Wylie — senior Ashleigh Williams (two), junior Taylor Spitzer (two), freshman Jillian Anderson (two), sophomore Kalista Hough (two), sophomore Melania Fullerton and junior Natalie Doublesin.
“We have a lot of different threats,” Thompson said. “We have a strong central midfield and some great finishers looking for those one-touch goals that are hard to defend. They’ve looked great.”
That scoring depth is compounded by a roster that’s mostly intact from last year after graduating just six seniors. Allen returns 12 players who were named to either the all-district first or second team last season and has a few additions already making an impact early on.
Williams, who submitted an all-district campaign as a sophomore in 2019 during the Lady Eagles’ run to the state semifinals, is back with the program after not playing for Allen last season, and Fullerton — the daughter of Allen boys head coach Kim Fullerton — and senior Haley Molina have joined the mix after previously playing for their respective developmental academy teams. Thompson noted that Molina made her debut with the team on Tuesday against Plano West after missing the prior week due to COVID-19 guidelines.
Senior Anna Reysa, an all-district first-teamer who already has five assists on the year to complement two goals, is back as well. Thompson noted that she’s been used at multiple positions this season depending on where her speed is most needed for a particular matchup.
The early returns have been strong for Allen’s eclectic offense, and Thompson had a chance to see some resilience late after the Lady Eagles surrendered a 1-0 lead in the 73rd minute against Heath on Jan. 9. The Lady Hawks netted an equalizer before Allen, led by Williams, caught fire down the homestretch with two straight goals for the 3-1 victory.
“It was 0-0 at halftime, which wasn’t where we wanted to be, and the girls responded well in the first five minutes of the second half to get up 1-0,” Thompson said. “We slowed down again — we talk about early and often, wanting to get a quick goal and then another to get the opponent off their game. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that and got scored on with seven minutes left.
“I was very proud of how they responded. They could have gotten frustrated or let up with a 1-1 tie, but they kept fighting and responded twice. It was an impressive effort.”
Thompson added that Allen still has plenty to iron out, including with a defense that has allowed four goals in three matches — a mark Thompson wants to trim down. The Lady Eagles were down two of their stalwarts on the back line during the Wylie tournament with junior Jessica Shivers and sophomore Lauren Woodruff, who was named 9-6A newcomer of the year last season, absent due to club team obligations.
“I think [we need to work on] pressuring the ball on top of the box. Right now, we’re allowing shots from the outside and we don’t have to let those in so our goalies don’t have to worry about those at all,” Thompson said. “Those are easy shots where you assume the goalie has it and then there’s a miscommunication and the goal goes against us.”
Following Saturday's showcase, Allen has two more weeks of non-district bouts to tune up for its Jan. 29 conference opener against McKinney Boyd. The Lady Eagles next host Bishop Lynch at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’re always looking at scores of similar opponents to see how the rest of the district is doing. I just firmly believe that with the talent we have right now that if we play and execute our game plan that it’s going to be tough to beat us,” Thompson said. “We focus on ourselves for the most part and working together and making sure we’re setting each other up the best we can.
“We have a lot of returning players, but it’s a new starting 11 together. It’s just three games in but they’re doing a good job working together and I know that’ll get better.”