The end of one chapter gives way to the start of another, and such is the case as teams around the state begin preparations for the 2022-23 school year.
For some, that means a fresh start as they look to get back on the winning track, while for others, it represents an opportunity to build on what they accomplished in the past year.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for the Frisco area, while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2022-23 school year.
After looking at the year in review, today we take a peek into the future, continuing with soccer.
1. What local girls soccer teams can contend for district titles?
If this were many districts, the answer would be “all of them.” That is how good, top to bottom, FISD soccer is.
But because they have been grouped together, they tend to beat each other up during the 9-5A season, with only the strongest surviving.
With the arrival of Emerson and Panther Creek, FISD now has 12 schools competing in varsity sports, and for the first time in a while in sports other than football, that means the school district will be split up into different districts.
Given the overall strength on the pitch, that could mean as many as nine FISD teams could qualify for the playoffs in the upcoming year.
Last season, Wakeland captured its third state championship in program history.
But in another testament to the strength of FISD soccer, the Wolverines did not even win their own district, with that honor going to Frisco.
Wakeland graduates nine all-district performers from the championship team, including three superlative award winners, but as its pedigree shows, that merely opens the door for new stars to emerge.
Senior midfielder/defender Bella James and defender Olivia Bos are coming off first-team all-district seasons, senior Lauren Vacek and juniors Lillie Grace Moncrief, Ava Yocum and Dayleigh Bos were named to the second team, give the Wolverines a formidable nucleus to build around.
Wakeland will find itself in the new 9-5A along with district mates Frisco, Lone Star and Reedy, with that quartet joined by the three Carrollton ISD schools—Creekview, Newman Smith and R.L. Turner—and The Colony.
In an odd twist, the four remaining members in 9-5A were also the four playoff teams from a year ago.
The reigning district champion Raccoons will return senior Lexi Lee, last year’s district most valuable player who tallied 27 goals and 12 assists.
Frisco has much more than just Lee, though, and it could make them the preseason pick to defend the district crown.
The Raccoons will also feature first-team seniors Kori Ballard, Ariana Anderson and Luci Rodriguez and juniors Mallory Rush and Kat Campbell, as well as second-team seniors Kaitlin Vance, Taylor Vance, Maddie Khanhkham and Alex Terrell.
Lone Star will bring back sophomore Macie Murphy, last year’s co-newcomer of the year, along with first-team seniors Autumn Webb and Krysten Kizer, while Reedy co-newcomer of the year sophomore Dezeriah Scott along with first-team seniors Grayson Fox and Alena Ultes and junior Reganne Morris.
With the four playoff teams from a year ago now separated, it opens the door for the members of the new 10-5A, an all-FISD group that includes Centennial, Emerson, Heritage, Independence, Lebanon Trail, Liberty and Memorial.
Of that group, the Redhawks were closest to breaking through a year ago, finishing just two points out of the fourth spot.
Liberty will be an early favorite with a solid senior class that includes first-teamers Grace DeShetler, Erica Defferding and Amelia Barber and second-teamers McKenna Clerkin, Maci White and Teagan Jaussi.
The Trail Blazers will be another team to watch after fielding a young group a season ago. Lebanon Trail will return a pair of first-team honorees in junior Bella Pasion and sophomore Micayla Decker, second-team junior Jordyn Brue and two more honorable mention picks with junior Taylor Annen and sophomore Delaney Kurtz.
Panther Creek will play its inaugural season in district 11-4A, and though it has not stepped foot on field, given FISD’s reputation for soccer, do not be surprised if it competes for a playoff berth right away.
2. What boys soccer teams will contend for district titles?
As was the case on the girls side, the Class 5A champion did not even win the 9-5A championship.
While that honor went to Lone Star for the first time in its history, it was once again Wakeland that shined brightest on the biggest stage, as it defended its state championship, bringing home the trophy for the fifth time overall.
The Wolverines graduated 10 of their 11 all-district honorees, with only newcomer of the year junior Hazani Torres back in the mix, but the Wakeland pedigree shows it will reload and be ready for another run come January.
While all four girls playoff teams remain in the same district, the new 9-5A will feature three of the four boys representatives with Wakeland, Lone Star and Reedy.
Like the Wolverines, the Rangers were hit hard by graduation, but they do return first-team senior Salim Guerrero and second-team seniors Jacob Wenzel, Matt Trouy, Adam Azizi and Amine Azizi as they try to defend their district crown.
The Lions should also be formidable with first-team seniors Cole Powell and Jacob Betancourt along with two second-teamers in senior Albi Xhafa and junior Jackson Runyan.
With the departure of those three teams, Liberty is the only squad coming off a playoff season in the new 10-5A, but senior Anthony Alston is the only one of eight all-district performers who is returning.
Another team to keep an eye on is Heritage, who finished just one point out of a playoff berth a season ago.
While the all-district team is littered with graduating seniors, the Redhawks expect to return a bulk of their playmakers with first-team seniors Marcelo Pedraza and Jacob Culpepper and junior Tyler Kiernicki, as well as a pair of second-teamers in senior Ziyaan Momin and junior Omar Solarzano.
3. Will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the 2022-2023 athletics year?
Last year at this time, there was still plenty of trepidation concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with new strains and spikes in parts of the country.
The pandemic forced an abrupt end to the athletics year in March of 2020 and wreaked havoc on the football season, causing cancellations, forfeits and the move of the Class 5A and 6A championship games back to January.
Though fears persisted, as cases continued to drop, the winter and spring sports were able to go on as planned with just the occasional hiccup here and there.
Unlike at the outbreak, high school leaders now have the information necessary, through safety protocols and other measures, to develop a plan that will allow the show to go on as planned.