BEDFORD -- Stoic as the Marcus girls soccer team was during its 4-0 shutout of Arlington on Thursday, there was a bit of a jolt from the Lady Marauders' bench early into the match.

Marcus wasted no time setting the tone, finding the back of the net just 17 seconds into the contest after junior Bella Campos set up senior Nina Mazzola with a one-on-one chance against the Lady Colts' keeper that the Marcus midfielder promptly converted.

As it turned out, that goal meant more than just a 1-0 lead.

"When we score in the first minute, we get pizza," said Chad Hobbs, Marcus head coach. "I don't think the girls realized it at first, but when they did they all started jumping up and down. It's always good to start a match like that."

The Lady Marauders would score two more times over the next 20 minutes, both on shots from Campos. Senior Piper Hemperly punctuated the victory with a goal off a rebound from her own shot less than two minutes into the second half.

It went part and parcel with how the state-ranked Lady Marauders are conducting their business early into the 2022 season. Following Thursday's win, the team improved to 4-0 and has outscored its opponents on the year, 19-1.

"It's an experienced group with 11 seniors. They're really hungry, especially after the way last year ended," Hobbs said. "They've been really mature about our approach during the offseason and getting ready for this year. They're ready to go and our performances are showing that."

Marcus returns the majority of its starting lineup from a team that advanced to the regional finals last season. The Lady Marauders fell to rival and eventual Class 6A state champion Flower Mound but haven't missed a beat in attempting to re-establish themselves as one of the power players in their classification.

Prior to besting Arlington, Marcus went unbeaten in the National Elite Prep Showcase with convincing wins over Round Rock (4-1), St. Agnes (8-0) and Steele Canyon (3-0). Prep Soccer recognized Campos, Hemperly, junior Caroline Castans, senior Kennedy Wise and junior Maddie Reynolds with all-tournament team selections.

"A lot of these girls have been on varsity for four years. There are a few new faces and they've been really welcoming," Hobbs said. "This group is a big family. They play for each other and we're looking forward to the opportunities ahead."

 

Lewisville girls clicking early on

Thursday marked the first time second-year Lewisville head girls soccer coach Bridget Hernandez got to see her full complement of players in action.

The Lady Farmers generated a wealth of opportunities on goal in their tournament opener in Bedford against Burleson -- at last breaking through in the 52nd minute courtesy of sophomore Carson Glenn. The forward found the back of the net against 100 seconds later to pace a 2-0 victory for Lewisville.

"This was Carson's first game back with us and she scores a brace," Hernandez said. "It's just so nice having her back. She's the biggest part of our offense and any time she's in there, our chances open up so much more. Her finishing was awesome."

The Lady Farmers didn't lack for chances to blow the match open on Thursday, controlling pace of play and amassing a sizable edge in shots taken. But Burleson's goalkeeper was up to the task early before Glenn managed to navigate past the oncoming netminder to set up both of her goals in the second half.

Generating offense hasn't been an issue early on for the Lady Farmers, who were coming off a whopping 12 goals scored in a win over Denton on Jan. 7.

"We scored early that game, I think four within the first five minutes. We're creating great opportunities early on and they just slotted all of them against Denton," Hernandez said. "The physicality of the opponent was a bit higher in this game today and they did a good job of staying composed until finally getting one to go in."

The Lady Farmers return the bulk of their roster from last season, including four (Glenn, Nicole Solete, Averi Culver and Brianna Sibounheuang) who were named to the 6-6A all-district team. With a more traditional offseason under their belts, Lewisville hopes to hold its own in one of the state's premier soccer conferences in the weeks to come.

"We had the whole season and offseason to really focus on the things we needed to clean up after district," Hernandez said. "We got to sit down and analyze what was necessary for the offseason. We changed up a few things for our personnel to help them grow substantially. We're creating more opportunities and understanding the game better."

 

Farmers, Hawks impress

The Hebron and Lewisville boys enjoyed productive starts to their 2022 campaigns after making deep runs at the North Texas Elite Showcase on Jan. 6-8.

The Hawks were among the biggest winners of the event, going undefeated to win the tournament's white division. Hebron came through in the clutch to overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit in the finals to eventually topple Prosper Rock Hill, 2-1.

The Hawks found the back of the net inside the final minute thanks to a goal from junior Reza Oufi. Sophomore Brian Avila set up the go-ahead score and did the same earlier in the match by assisting junior Micah Gonzales on an equalizer.

Hebron got the better of Lake Travis and Fort Worth Trimble Tech prior to qualifying for the championship match.

Lewisville, meanwhile, played Cornerstone to a 0-0 draw in their opening-round match before upping the ammunition on offense with wins over Tyler (3-1) and Trimble Tech (5-1). Seven different Farmers scored between those two victories, including a pair of goals for Sebastian Coronado. DJ Koulai, last season's newcomer of the year in 6-6A, added a goal and an assist during the tournament.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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