Flash Staff Report
STEPHENVILLE (January 8, 2017) — Stephenville captured its first state championship in girls soccer on April 12, 2017, and almost nine months later begin defense of their title against a game Waco side from the 5A ranks.
The Honeybees have a spat of road matches to begin the season, following the Waco journey a series of eastbound trips for tournament competition at Midlothian Heritage. It was Heritage that almost eliminated Kennedale two rounds prior to the regional tournament last spring, and it’s continued rise in other UIL sports is any indication, the tournament host will certainly be among the better teams there.
So, we assume, will be the Honeybees, who return an almost unimaginable 19 player from their championship team including eight sophomores who started as freshmen and a ninth who certainly would have started if healthy. Stephenville lost just two from its defensive juggernaut that outmanned most playoff opponents a season ago, but they were an important two in Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A-5A-6A Soccer Athlete of the Year Savannah Alford, an instant star in the last fall’s college season for NCAA Division II Midwestern State University, and Kaylee Wright, who also signed with Midwestern out of high school.
Alford was known to come up occasionally from the back and try to wedge in a goal, rare for a defenseman, but she even managed to head home a corner for the initial goal of the championship match in the state tournament last April. Other than her rare strikes or headers into the net, however, every Honeybee goal of 2017 is accounted for by players still active in 2018. Not to mention Jimena Espinoza, who was becoming a star midfielder as a freshman, and 2016 all-district midfielder Karsyn Kimbrough are both back from knee injuries.
The Bees may be better in 2018 and than in 2017, but that doesn’t always guarantee a repeat. But the goods are there, and all-state candidates will be competing in every third for 11th-year head coach Casey Weil and assistant Katie Fulton.
Here is the 2018 lineup, including the grueling district full of teams who all reached the third round of the 4A playoffs in 2017, Mineral Wells going on to the regional semifinal and Stephenville, of course, claiming its spot as best of the best in the conference.
|9 – January||@Waco High||7 p.m.|
|11-14 – January||@Midlothian Heritage Tournament||TBA|
|16 – January||Granbury||7 p.m.|
|19-20 – January||Knights of Columbus Challenge of Champions||TBA|
|23 – January||Alvarado||7 p.m.|
|26 – January||@Springtown||5 p.m.|
|2 – February||@Graham||5 p.m.|
|6 – February||Burkburnett||5:30 p.m.|
|9 – February||@China Spring||5:30 p.m.|
|16 – February||Mineral Wells||5 P.M.|
|20 – February||@Abilene Wylie||5 p.m.|
|23 – February||Brownwood||5 p.m.|
|27 – February||@Mineral Wells||5 p.m.|
|2 – March||Abilene Wylie||5 p.m.|
|6 – March||@Brownwood||5 p.m.|
|9 – March||Mineral Wells||5 p.m.|
|20 – March||@Abilene Wylie||5 p.m.|
|23 – March||Brownwood||5 p.m.|