In a district like 6-6A, making the playoffs is a feat all of its own.
Those are the thoughts emanating from a program like Coppell, who although unable to quite come out on top in a loaded field, recorded a third-place finish and was still recognized as one of the best teams in the country.
District 6-6A featured three nationally ranked teams at season’s end, and Coppell was one of those three in the final Winter FAB 50 rankings by TopDrawerSoccer.com – Flower Mound was No. 4, Flower Mound Marcus was No. 8 and Coppell was No. 20.
“I think getting into the playoffs at all out of our district is one thing,” said Ryan Dunlevy, Coppell head coach. “I think it was a year where we were ranked No. 1 in the country to start the year and undefeated going into district, then we kind of hit a little bit of a lull through the first part. We had some injuries that really affected us a great deal, but I’m incredibly proud of the girls to fight back as a response to it.”
Coppell finished the season on fire, going 5-1-1 in its last seven games, but there were some trials and tribulations against a daunting schedule while dealing with the injury bug.
Haley Roberson missed 75% of the district season, but the North Texas signee and four-year starter still managed to record eight goals and seven assists in her senior year. Meanwhile, Texas Tech-bound Katie Odum had an ACL injury.
The Cowgirls were 3-2-1 out of the gate in district play, not quite the start they envisioned after that No. 1 national ranking to begin the season. However, both of those defeats came to Marcus and Flower Mound – both of which were one-goal losses.
“I think we just had to refocus,” Dunlevy said. “I think we were kind of shellshocked after the first half of district. Coppell hasn’t lost very many games collectively, and our seniors have only lost a total of five or six games in four years. When you do that and you hit a rough spot, it kind of takes a minute to get everything back in line and heading in the right direction.”
So, Coppell refocused, and it would immediately find its identity and come together at just the perfect time.
Gearing themselves for a playoff push, the Cowgirls outscored opponents 27-9 in the final seven games – including a 10-0 drubbing sprinkled in — before the season was ultimately canceled.
“I think we were kind of getting better and heading in the right direction,” Dunlevy said. “Things were coming together as we were closing out district. We were kind of starting to hit our peak performance. I wish we could have come back and finished because anybody could have gone and won this year.”
Could Coppell have made a state title run for the first time since 2015? With the way it was playing, that dream became more and more of a possibility as it found the right note on the field.
While there was not a chance for a state championship run, Dunlevy’s Coppell team was still a dominant bunch for much of the year. It went 14-3-2 overall while recording a 63-17 goal differential and notching nine shutouts.
Four players scored eight or more goals – Michelle Pak (17), Maya Ozymy (10) and Jocelyn Alonzo (10), Haley Roberson (eight). Tack on a saellar defensive unit that also had TCU-bound goalie Lauren Kellett – the 6-6A goalie of the year and a four-star recruit by TopDrawerSoccer.com – and it was a recipe for success every step of the way.
“It’s a pretty good recipe once you get everything and rolling and everybody on the same page,” Dunlevy said. “I think for us that was huge for us is just getting on the same page with new people. Losing Katie Odum obviously was a big hit for us, and it took a little bit to kind of figure out how we were going to play a little bit differently not having a player like that on our back line.”
Dunlevy and Coppell will say goodbye to a senior class that rarely lost during its four years on campus.
In those four seasons, Coppell made or qualified for the playoffs every year and went to the regional tournament three times – including a 2018 regional semifinals trip.
“In the last four years they’ve lost a total of eight games,” Dunlevy said. “They’ve contributed to 98 wins and 10 losses in four years. I think numbers speak volumes, and on top of that they’ve helped change the culture to one of team first soccer. They have kind of really stepped up as leaders within the program, and they’ve kind of helped dictate and control what the culture is like and how the program functions.
“I think every coach wants players that are going to take ownership and be active in the leadership of it. I think we had that. They created their own legacy of Coppell soccer, and hopefully everybody else that was a part of it kind of takes on with that and roles with it as well.”