By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 5, 2015) — Stephenville head coach Casey Weil has led Stephenville to a pair of girls soccer regionals and feels as good about his 2016 club as he has about any during his successful time at the school.
The Honeybees have never missed the playoffs under Weil, and have a strong senior class returning.
“We have a lot of seniors who have played a lot of soccer together, and that’s a great place to start,” said Weil following a 3-1 scrimmage victory at Everman Tuesday evening. “We have a lot of heart and strong leadership. Our girls love playing this game, and that’s why they play so hard.”
While some obvious leaders, such as the high scoring forward duo of Miami (Fla.) soccer commit Bayleigh Chaviers and Skylar Chipman as well as Mikayla Hobbs and others are still playing basketball, that’s something Weil and company are used to dealing with.
“We have leaders now. Savannah Alford is a rock for us in the middle of everything, and I think Kalee Wright is just outstanding out of the back. She would run through a brick wall for us and everyone on the team feeds off that type of leader,” Weil said. “Alexis De Los Santos and Erin Couch are good leaders.”
“We even have some new leaders like you saw (Tuesday),” he added. “Julie Morken, an exchange student from Sweden, plays so hard and is so active up front, we could go on and on. It’s a great group of girls.”
Including Jordyn Howle back at net. She made an impressive diving save in the first half Tuesday, but didn’t face much pressure thanks to the defense and midfielders in front of her.
“You don’t ever want to have your keeper face a lot of shots, but you want to have a good one back there when that does happen, and we have confidence in Jordyn,” said Weil. “She’s shown she knows what to do back there and she does a good job of taking charge when she needs to.”
Morken and Couch kept the pressure on for Stephenville in its lone preseason scrimmage, and each scored before halftime. Couch knocked in a penalty kick and Morken was rewarded for her constant aggression when an easy roller sneaked between the arms of the Everman keeper.
The goal by Morken broke a 1-1 tie and stood as the match winner for the Honeybees, who are preparing for a regional qualifier’s showcase in Kennedale Thursday through Saturday. Stephenville faces 2015 Region II finalist Kaufman at noon on Thursday and reigning 4A state champ Kennedale at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Saturday’s pairings and times will be determined by results from the initial two days.
The Honeybees do not play in Stephenville until the Knights of Columbus Invitational January 15-16 at Stephenville Soccer Complex. They don’t play on their home pitch at Lem Brock Field until January 18.
“The Knights of Columbus tournament is always good for us. We’d like to win it again this year,” said Weil. “It will be a good tournament and we have a good schedule. We’re definitely going to play a level of competition that will make us better, starting right off the bat with Kaufman.”
All in an effort to be prepared for district play, which begins February 23, and the playoffs to follow.
“When will we have our basketball girls, when won’t we, I don’t know, and I’ve learned you can’t waste time worrying about all that,” Weil said. “We can win a lot of soccer games with what we have out here right now. All we can worry about is continuing to work hard, play hard and to make improvements. I think it will be a great year.”