By BRAD KEITH
DUBLIN (November 28, 2017) – Stephenville girls soccer head coach Casey Weil finds it surreal looking around and seeing so many of the same faces he charged onto the pitch to celebrate alongside in Georgetown last April.
The Honeybees won the Conference 4A girls soccer championship, their first state title in the sport, and have 19 starters back including eight sophomores who started as freshmen in the state final, a 2-1 win over Boerne.
They have experienced walking out, international style, onto the pitch at Georgetown for the biggest matches to that point of their lives and they have experienced scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes to win a regional semifinal over a Melissa team fully capable of winning a state title. They have experienced back and forth duels with Abilene Wylie, Brownwood and Mineral Wells in a district strong enough it forces each team to get better as the season goes along.
And, above just about all that, they have experienced a grueling battle scoreless all the way through overtime before winning on penalty kicks to stun two-time reigning state champ Kennedale in a regional final Weil and many others believe was the de facto state championship match.
“It’s just crazy, it’s the same team,” said a beaming Weil as his Bees broke into drills on day two of practice Tuesday. “I mean we’re pretty much ready to pick up where we left off, and I can’t imagine leaving off at any better spot than winning a state championship.”
Weil plans to install attacks and concepts rare to the high school level because so many schools have girls who only play together a few months each year and most not nearly as successful as Stephenville.
“We definitely don’t want to just sit back and relax and act like nobody wants what we’ve got, because everybody wants the state championship,” he said. “We have to be even better to keep it than we were when we won it to begin with.”
Except the occasional goal from Savannah Alford when she would press up from her sweeper position, as she did to head in a corner for the first goal in the championship, literally every goal scored is accounted for by a returning player.
Alford and Kaylee Wright are the only ones gone. Alford was a four-year starter in the back and ultimately was named the Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A-6A Outstanding Girls Soccer Athlete, the highest honor presented to high school player in Texas. She reached the NCAA Division II Championship as a freshman at Midwestern State. The Mustangs were eliminated in the opening round.
But back defensively is Beatris Chavarria, a first-team all-state defender as a freshman who was absent from the day two practice because she was on an unofficial visit to Alabama.
Weil said Chavarria is one of many Honeybees with aspirations and the skill to play at the next level.
“There is no telling how many of these girls are going to play somewhere. Half of them or more certainly can,” Weil said.
Both keepers and all the midfielders are back. Needless to say, there is a hive full of junior varsity Honeybees looking up to see spots on the varsity roster are at a premium.
“We’re building a lot of depth in our program because we have so many back, and that’s just going to help us be strong for years to come, “Weil said. “We’re still a very young team.
With the experience of 19 state champions.