Amidst its best season in years, The Colony girls soccer team knows it would not be here without one strong nucleus of seniors.
The young talent dispersed up and down the roster is absurd. Freshmen and sophomores are putting balls into the net at a high rate, lifting The Colony (8-2-1) into a second-place spot in District 8-5A and right behind first-place Lake Dallas (9-2-0) – the two teams split the regular season series - with just one game remaining.
But head coach Tommy Ray can’t stop raving about his senior leadership, a group of individuals who do everything right on and off the field while providing their invaluable knowledge and advice to the younger players through this highly successful season on the pitch.
“It’s a perfect blend this year because of the leadership,” Ray said. “To me, the underclassmen are getting a lot of attention, but the leadership to me is the thing that’s balancing it all out. That’s the great thing.”
Starting out the year, The Colony went through a rough patch. Including the scrimmages, it registered one win, six losses and one tie.
But now, the Lady Cougars have taken a complete 360 and then some, etching themselves into one of the top two spots in a challenging district because of their ability to be coached, finding their identity and having their leadership kick in.
That comes from a group of seniors in center back Reagan Keiser, center mid/wing Tori Cantu, forward Ariana August and wing Makena Hale – all of whom are leading the way on a roster where more than half of the players on the field can be first-year high schoolers.
One is considered the “greatest captain” Ray has ever had. Another doesn’t care about statistics whatsoever and is the “enforcer” on the team. Another is a “quiet leader” and shows just what needs to be done. And one just returned from an injury, adding to that crucial group of players in their final year at the high school level.
“At any given time, we can be starting six freshmen out there,” Ray said. “It’s a weird mix, and it’s just the whole mix. We preach family. We’re always talking about our pillars – integrity is always the foundation of everything we do. I’m a firm believer in doing things right.”
Those seniors are on every part of the attack. Forward, midfield, defense – you name it. Wherever it is, there is a senior there to bring that wealth of experience to whatever part of the field they are on.
And they fill their roles to a T – something that each and every player on the roster has done to help get them to where they are now.
August is that “quiet leader” and sets the perfect example, also developing into one of the top goal scorers on the team. Keiser stops anything and everything in her way and is a perfect leader. Hale is back from an ACL injury to give another boost on the field and give another dose of senior leadership out there. Cantu is the one where statistics don’t mean anything to her, and she certainly doesn’t mind sacrificing those numbers and doing all of the necessary dirty work to help the Lady Cougars come out with a “W” at the end of the day.
“We kind of just repeat what he says,” August said. “If anything needs to be done, then we relay the message to the other girls. Just kind of keep up the repetition of you have to do this, this and this so it’s in the brain to do it.”
As those seniors embark on their final stretch of high school soccer, they are ready to make one final run and build off their string of trips to the bi-district round of the playoffs the last two years.
“We know that at the end of the day it’s all going to pay off and hopefully we go further than we usually do because this team has so much talent,” Cantu said. “I’m so excited for it.”