After just missing out on the postseason one year ago, the Lake Dallas girls soccer team came in motivated and hungry to get themselves into the dance come 2020.
In 2019, Lake Dallas came oh-so-close to making its postseason aspirations a reality. It went 5-5-2 in District 8-5A play, right there to get themselves into the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
But its mark in the district left it out of one of the top four spots to make it into bi-district play, just behind Denton Braswell and its 6-4-2 record for that No. 4 playoff seed.
Fast-forward one year later, and the Lady Falcons are on a tear, sitting at 7-1-0 in 8-5A entering Friday and all alone in first place while securing a playoff spot.
“I’m just excited for what they’re doing this year,” said Nathan Davis, Lake Dallas head coach. “They fell short of their goal last year of making the playoffs. Right now, we’re in a good position to be able to not only make the playoffs but push for a top spot in the district.”
Two sophomores and one senior have led the charge for a potent offensive attack. Sophomores Chelsea Vilca (nine goals) and Presleigh Thiessen (eight goals) have combined for 17 of the Lady Falcons’ 43 goals, and senior Karina De Paoli is tied with Thiessen for the second-most goals on the team with eight.
However, that is not where the damage stops. Although those three are the headliners for goal scoring, it has been a collaborative effort that has brought Lake Dallas to the top heading into the final four contests of the regular season.
Eleven different players have scored, eight have multiple goals and five have four-plus scores, with junior Addison Buesing and sophomore Olivia Trotter each at four goals behind the top three scorers.
“They all trust each other, and they’re playing the system that we’ve implemented this summer,” Davis said. “They all work hard, and they all trust each other. That’s the biggest thing is them working together as a team and having confidence in each other to be where they need to be in order to put balls in the net. It’s been enjoyable to watch them play.”
Senior goalie Sydney Frazier and the Lake Dallas defense have stepped up just like the all-around offensive attack, too.
Opponents have put the ball in the back of the net just 16 times in 19 games. Of those 19 games, eight have been shutouts, meaning 42.1% and nearly half of the opposing teams failed to register just one goal.
Behind the stellar defensive effort is Frazier, who is up to 40 saves in her final high school campaign.
“We came out in preseason really strong and I felt like a lot of people just completely underestimated us, and I knew in my head, ‘OK, my backline is completely solid,’” Frazier said. “The only things that go through and get shot on me is like impossible for defenses to stop.
“People look at shutouts and they think it’s the goalkeeper when really it’s not. This year it’s defense all the way, and our midfield has gotten so much stronger, especially when we have Grace (Murray) now as defensive mid. She’s really strong in the back. And that will just propel us forward into the next round.”
Lake Dallas knows there is a lot more work to be done. The Colony – the one team to beat Lake Dallas in district – and Little Elm are each breathing down its neck at 5-2-1 in second place, followed by Denton Ryan at 4-2-1.
And the Lady Falcons are eager to fight down to the very end as the district race continues to heat up, hoping to add some trophies to their collection in addition to the postseason bid they have already earned.
“We also want to get district, win district, district champs,” De Paoli said. “That would be a really big deal for us, us being a small school, everyone wouldn’t expect that.”