As numerous high school soccer teams close in on the halfway mark of their district schedules, playoff races are beginning to take shape and title contenders are emerging.
Locally, that field includes a cast of programs that have garnered national and state acclaim in soldiering through an impressive start to conference action. Here’s a look around the pitch with the second half of district play on the horizon.
Lady Jags getting it done with defense
Matt Welch: Every team in the area still has plenty of room for growth, and the Flower Mound girls are no different. But the Lady Jaguars’ start to the season is as strong as any program in the state, sporting a 13-0-1 record and a perfect 6-0 mark in 6-6A.
Merging returning talent with a junior varsity core that went unbeaten in 2019, plus what head coach Misail Tsapos noted as a little luck, Flower Mound is yet to allow a goal in district play — good for a plus-16 goal differential.
“My biggest thing is if you give me August through December, the organization is going to be fairly good,” Tsapos said. “It’s not even just the back four and the goalkeeper, our team defense has been really solid. I think we’ve given up six goals in 14 matches and some came when we were up big and playing kids in different positions.”
Despite losing sophomore Marianne Baltmanis to an ACL injury, Flower Mound’s defense has remained elite behind the play of junior Madison Schott, senior Paige Slaughter and sophomore twins Hallie and Hannah Augustyn, plus the goal-keeping duo of junior Peyton Whipple and senior Molly Coffman, who have five shutouts apiece.
Marcus scoring at will
Matt Welch: For all the success the Flower Mound girls have enjoyed on defense, the Marcus boys can say the same about their offense near the 6-6A midpoint.
Following Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over Irving MacArthur, the Marauders upped their goal count to 25 across their first six district matches — a welcome complement to just five goals allowed for a plus-20 goal differential. For comparison’s sake, the next highest in 6-6A is plus-3, shared by Lewisville and Irving.
Marcus has spread its firepower across a wealth of attackers, with players like seniors Harvey Castro, Sam Coad, Tomas Pondeca and junior Porter Pomykal all having scored at least three goals apiece in conference play.
The result has been one of the most dynamic offenses in the state, with Marcus unbeaten in district action at 6-0 and nursing the No. 6 ranking in the nation, per TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Coppell seeking strong second half
Chris Jackson: Coppell’s first go-around through 6-6A has been a tough one so far.
The Cowboys are just 1-3-2 in district play, with the only victory during that span coming in 2-0 fashion at Irving MacArthur. But despite those records, they feel as if they are just inches away from taking that next step.
“We just haven’t been able to get the results yet,” said James Balcom, Coppell head coach. “We’ve preached that message this season. Just hopefully the next one becomes the one where we get the result and then kind of carries you over. That’s kind of how we’ve felt so far. We’ve put together a lot of good performances, a couple lapses here or there have kind of proved to be the difference a lot of these games.”
They will look to the two star seniors who opponents have tried to key on — Sebastian Blaas and Tom Vazhekatt – and hopefully find other key contributions behind them. Vazhekatt boasts a team-high seven goals, accounting for nearly half of the Cowboys’ 16 scores. Blaas is second on the team with five goals, but Balcom said he has moved around at different positions and played along the backline early in the campaign due to numerous injuries.
The Cowgirls, meanwhile, are right near the top and ready to carve out their role as one of the elite teams when it is all said and done. At 3-2-1, Coppell sits in fourth place and in playoff positioning in a mighty district that includes four teams ranked in the state’s top 10 by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
“It’s pretty good chemistry so far, so we’re just kind of going along, battling as we go through arguably the toughest district and in the entire state and/or country,” said Ryan Dunlevy, Coppell head coach.
Coppell is currently outscoring opponents 36-8 and is dominating on the road, harboring a 7-0-1 record at opponents’ venues.
And Dunlevy loves just what he has on this team. The roster is oozing with talent – junior Jocelyn Alonzo is committed to Memphis, junior captain Addison Martin just committed to Central Arkansas and senior goalie Lauren Kellett is set to play at TCU next year.
Other college-bound players have dealt with injuries, with senior Haley Roberson (North Texas) recovering from an injury and fellow senior Katie Odum (Texas Tech) dealing with an ACL tear.
Lewisville, Hebron in mix
Matt Welch: The Flower Mound girls and Marcus boys have set the bar high in 6-6A, but the remainder of LISD is certainly no stranger to success of its own.
Hebron is in position to potentially qualify both its boys and girls teams for the playoffs for the second consecutive year, while Lewisville’s boys have scrapped their way into contention with a second-place standing in the district.
The Farmers, in pursuit of their second playoff appearance since 1999, have picked up points in all but one match — recently overtaking Irving for second place after tying Hebron on Tuesday, 1-1. Junior Brody Webster supplied the Lewisville goal and, along with senior Ethan Carbajal, has helped the Farmers to nine goals in district thus far.
Meanwhile, Hebron’s girls continue to climb in 6-6A. The Lady Hawks have won three of their past four, to vault over Coppell and into second place. Following Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Lewisville — a victory aided by a pair of goals from senior Briley Weatherford — the Lady Hawks sport the district’s second-best goal differential at plus-14.
“It’s competitive every year,” Tsapos said of the district. “You fight, claw, scratch and do whatever you can just to get in the playoffs every year, which speaks to the quality of soccer players in this area, and there are plenty to go around.”
Lake Dallas duo keeping pace
Chris Jackson: With hefty expectations early on, Lake Dallas is starting to find its groove and pick up right where it left off a year ago.
Last season, the Falcons made a run all the way to the regional finals and brought back a chunk of that highly successful bunch. But they found some hard times early on, dealing with numerous injuries and facing some tough opponents in pre-district.
“We set our goals really high this year because of that and forgot to take it one step at a time,” said Brandon Martin, Lake Dallas head coach. “I think that our preseason brought everyone back down to Earth. We are finally at a point where we can learn from each game and get better as the season progresses.”
Since 8-5A began, Lake Dallas hasn’t to lost a game and recorded a 2-0-2 record to tie with Little Elm at the top of the standings.
Just like the boy’s team, the Lady Falcons are in a prime position to come away with an 8-5A crown.
Lake Dallas currently sits in second place at 3-1-0, just behind first-place The Colony – which holds a nine-match unbeaten streak entering Friday night – and is in a spot right now to make a trip to the postseason for the first time since 2015-16.
Two sophomores - Presleigh Thiessen and Chelsea Vilca – are among the top contributors and will be looked to continue to their success the rest of the way. Thiessen leads the team in both goals (seven) and points (14), and Vilca is second on the team in both of those categories with five goals and 11 points.