DUNCANVILLE — With one of the area’s most challenging district schedules on the horizon, the Lewisville girls soccer team is looking to make up for lost time.
The Lady Farmers were back in action with four games played over the past week as the team made its return from a brief shutdown related to COVID-19. Lewisville had a positive test for the virus within its program on Jan. 9, forcing an early pause on the team’s season after a round of contact tracing.
The brief hiatus came on the heels of a 1-0 victory over Denton Guyer, the team’s first win under new head coach Bridget Hernandez. After missing out on a week of games, most notably a tournament appearance in Bedford, the Lady Farmers are looking to recapture the magic of that season-opening shutout.
Doing so has been a challenge early on, with Lewisville edged by Little Elm, 4-3, on Tuesday, followed by subsequent setbacks against Cleburne (2-0) and Richardson (2-1) on Thursday and Friday, respectively, at the Duncanville Kickoff Classic.
“Especially with teenagers, it’s tough when you go from going hard this entire time to all of a sudden having to put the brakes on everything,” Hernandez said. “Not getting to see each other, I think it’s just something that plays on your psyche and then having to come back and get that team chemistry back.”
Friday’s setback didn’t come without its opportunities. The Lady Farmers controlled the pace of play over the match’s first 40 minutes, taking up residence in Richardson’s half of the pitch and generating a wealth of opportunities on goal. Seniors Adamaris Manjarrez and Victoria Sibounheuang were among the early aggressors for Lewisville.
Amid peppering the Richardson defense with some early offense, the Lady Farmers broke through in the 18th minute after catching the Lady Eagles’ goalkeeper out of position. Sophomore Averi Culver had possession deep in the box before sending the ball across until it ultimately found freshman Brianna Sibounheuang for the tap-in and an early 1-0 lead.
“We were sharp early on, especially when we were the ones taking control of the pace of play,” Hernandez said. “I know what we have and what we’re capable of and I just have to remind them of that everyday. We’ll get these uglies out right now and be ready for next week.”
Lewisville had additional chances to pad that advantage, but Richardson’s defense held firm. Those missed opportunities loomed large over the final 40 minutes as the Lady Eagles netted both an equalizer and go-ahead score on a pair of high-arcing strikes from roughly 25-30 yards out that snuck just inside the crossbar.
“It’s tough. Soccer, in general, is about having a strong mentality and staying in that moment, no matter if you’re up, down or tied,” Hernandez said. “It just kind of slipped away from us in that moment. We tried to recover but got a bit unlucky in the end.”
As Lewisville looks to shake off any lingering rust, Hernandez used the stay in Duncanville as a chance to experiment with a new formation to take advantage of the team’s depth in the middle — deploying the Lady Farmers’ midfielders a diamond set. Manjarrez, plus seniors Ashley Rosete and Torrance Gonzales, were among the options used in the middle on Friday.
“We have the players that are capable of making that formation look great, so we’re just experimenting a little bit,” Hernandez said. “We want to use this tournament to see a different look so if, for example, we face an opponent that has a three-man midfield, how can we slow that down and be successful. We’re just working on that process and trying to drill down this formation.”
Lewisville closed out its preseason Saturday against Richardson Berkner in one last chance to iron out any kinks before the games take on extra meaning Tuesday with the start of District 6-6A action. The Lady Farmers open their conference slate at home with a 7:30 p.m. kick against Plano West.
Lewisville will go to battle in a district that features five teams ranked in the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches’ preseason regional top 10 — a list that includes Flower Mound (No. 1), Marcus (No. 5), Coppell (No. 6), Hebron (No. 7) and West (No. 10).
“I’m still hopeful for us. Being back from quarantine is hard and I’m seeing that firsthand right now,” Hernandez said. “It’s thrown us off a little bit physically, but I think we’ll be back to where we should be by the time district rolls around.”