Inclement weather put last week’s District 6-6A’s soccer schedule on hold, forcing a postponement of all games scheduled for Friday.
A chilly Metroplex threw a wrench into what had been a mostly seamless first couple weeks on the district pitch. As teams navigate their seasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic, all eight boys teams exited Tuesday having played five games apiece, while only Coppell has had to endure a brief quarantine on the girls side.
The early returns from the conference have produced some familiar storylines as well as a few surprise teams that will try and continue turning heads in the weeks to come.
Here’s a look around the district as teams near the league schedule’s halfway mark.
Run it back
When the pandemic quashed the 2020 soccer season, 6-6A’s top spots belonged to the Marcus boys and Flower Mound girls. Both seem to have picked up where they left off.
The Lady Jaguars are unbeaten through their first four matches at 3-0-1, good for 10 points under the district’s scoring system (three points for a win, one for a draw). Perfect on the year at 9-0-1, Flower Mound’s girls haven’t lost a match since March 29, 2019.
Last season’s nationally ranked campaign was defined by defense and the Lady Jaguars haven’t strayed from that identity with just two goals allowed in district play and only three for the season. They’ve got plenty of continuity back on that end of the pitch, including senior goalkeeper Peyton Whipple and senior defender Madison Schott.
Senior Riley Baker and junior Sydney Becerra have helped spark an offense that has tallied a district-high 10 goals.
Marcus, meanwhile, is 4-1-0 and has 14 goals through its first five 6-6A matchups, good for the top mark in the conference and notable considering the Marauders graduated the majority of their goal-scoring production from last season.
They’ve reloaded behind the likes of senior Noah Peeler, junior Andrew Wang and sophomore Avery Estell to boost an offense that has scored at least four goals three times in district play. But whereas the Marauders gained some gaudy separation in their pursuit of a district title, the rest of the conference is having its say as well.
Crowded at the top
Impressive as the Marauders and Lady Jaguars have been early on, neither has sole possession of first place in the district. Flower Mound’s girls are currently tied with Plano at 3-0-1 and the Marcus boys are part of a three-team logjam for first place with Plano and Coppell, both of whom are also 4-1-0.
The Wildcats have matched the Marauders’ gaudy firepower with 14 goals of their own and have logged four clean sheets in five district matches played — the exception being a 4-2 loss to Marcus on Jan. 29. Head coach Tex McCullough said heading into district that this year’s Plano squad was the deepest he’s had during his time with the program, and that has panned out thus far with junior Nolan Giles and seniors Sage Trevino and Stone Baldwin among the early contributors for a versatile Wildcat attack.
Coppell, meanwhile, has dusted off a 2-0 loss to Plano in its conference opener and won four straight, including a 2-0 shutout of the Marauders on Feb. 2. The Cowboys were the only team in 6-6A to defeat Marcus last season. Coppell kept pace despite a recent scare against seventh-place Hebron, riding a hat trick from senior Brandon Gast to a 4-3 win.
On the girls side, Plano and Flower Mound won’t collide until March 9 but have already played the same four opponents to begin their respective conference schedules. The Lady Wildcats have held up well against an uptick in district competition, including a 2-2 draw with Marcus in their conference opener. Senior Amanda Walsh has carried her firepower from the preseason over into district with five goals scored in four matches.
Around the pitch
*Although they might not be tied for first place, the Marcus girls have played on par with Flower Mound and Plano. In addition to drawing with both to begin district, the Lady Marauders have since turned away Plano West and Hebron by a combined margin of 5-0 to sit in third place with eight points at 2-0-2. Marcus is second in goal differential at plus-5, thanks to a deep array of scoring options paced by sophomore Piper Hemperly and freshman Maddie Reynolds.
*The Lady Marauders have also notched a milestone moment for longtime head coach Chad Hobbs, who won the 200th match of his career at Marcus last month. Hobbs is in his 11th season leading the Lady Marauders.
*Teams outside the top three trending in the right direction include the Plano East boys and the Coppell girls. The Panthers posted a 2-0-1 stretch prior to Tuesday’s loss to Plano and have received strong play on the attack from by seniors Walters Che and Ben Woodard. Free from quarantine, the Cowgirls will be busy in the weeks to come with three matches postponed during their hiatus. They’ve made up ground in the standings with four points in two matches.
*So far, nearly two-thirds of the 6-6A girls soccer schedule has been comprised of matches decided by one goal or less. Plano has thrived in those close quarters with a 2-0-1 record in those matches, while others like East, Hebron and Lewisville have taken some lumps. The Lady Hawks, who made the playoffs 17 of 18 years prior to last season’s cancellation, are in sixth place at 1-3-1 due to a 1-2-1 record in matches decided by one goal or less. The Lady Panthers, meanwhile, 1-2 under those circumstances and the Lady Farmers are 0-3 — dropping one-score verdicts to all three Plano ISD schools.