Stephenville, Borger meet at 1 p.m. Friday in Wichita Falls
By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (March 30, 2016) — Stephenville is seeking another area championship in girls soccer, and standing in the way is Pampa.
The teams meet in a Region I-4A area match at 1 p.m. Friday at Wichita Falls ISD Memorial Stadium, followed at 3 p.m. by the Stephenville boys against Borger.
“I think we are the better team. I think we are going to play more physical, we’re faster and we’re smarter,” said confident Stephenville head coach Casey Weil. “I believe they will sit back and try to play a defensive game and keep us from scoring, and then when they get the ball try to counter-attack by coming at us quickly.”
Confident, yes. But Weil isn’t overlooking anyone at this time of year.
“You can go into a match against Bridgeport or a team like Pampa and you can make it easy on yourself or you can make it difficult,” he said. “If you take a team lightly, it can get tough. You can take 100 shots and not make one, and they can take one shot and make it and you’re in trouble. That’s soccer.”
But one can’t blame Weil for liking what he’s seen out of his team, especially since the beginning of district play. The Honeybees’ only loss since then was to Abilene Wylie, and they avenged that with a 1-0 road victory late in the regular season. That win was key to SHS taking the top seed from district play into the playoffs for the first time in program history. The Bees then opened the post season with a 7-0 rout of Bridgeport last week.
“The way we’ve been playing, we’re just extremely good defensively and on the attack we’re creating a lot of opportunities,” Weil said. “When you have that combination – not allowing many scoring opportunities but still creating great opportunities at the other end – as a coach that’s what you want.”
To have that, leadership has to be solid, and Weil has never felt more comfortable with the leadership of a team he has coached.
“This whole team is just full of leaders. I’ve said that since the end of last year. They are leaders in different aspects. We have leaders in the weight room, leaders on the field, leaders in the classroom, and they all come together nicely,” he explained. “We have so many leaders in different facets, that it’s easy as a coach have trust and confidence in them in any situation. Whether it’s who do I want out there defensively, or who am I going to rely on to score, it doesn’t matter. This year we have a bunch of girls who can do a bunch of things, from the keeper to the forwards, and when you have that it’s extremely nice.”
Even the venue for the match gives Weil confidence.
“I like going to Wichita Falls. It’s one of our more lengthy trips, but we’ve had a lot of successful matches there. We lost in the regional tournament there once, but it’s a good place, a good venue and they treat you really well,” he said. “We’ve won a lot more matches there than we’ve lost, so I’ll take it.”
That last point comes by design, Weil says.
“Trips like this are why we travel to places like San Angelo Lake View or play tournaments in Kennedale, Argyle, wherever,” he explained. “Some people think I’m crazy when I schedule trips like that, but in this region, you know there is a possibility of facing a Pampa, Borger, San Elizario, someone you are going to have to travel a good ways to play against. The playoffs isn’t the time to experiment with the best way to travel, you want to figure all that out in the regular season so you’re ready to go at this time of year.”
The winner faces Borger or Brownwood in the regional quarterfinals next week. There is a chance the Bees could find themselves on their home pitch if its a rematch of district rivals.
“The Brownwood coach and I are meeting ahead of time to flip home-and-home,” said Weil. “So if Brownwood wins we’ll either play here or there.”
Of course, the Honeybees must win Friday for any of that to matter.
“We just need to go be us and take advantage of opportunities when we create them,” Weil said. “I think as long as we come out and be aggressive and play smart we’ll be fine.”