WAXAHACHIE — If the Lady Warriors last game is any indication of how bright the future could be, the reigns of the junior varsity and varsity Lady Indians may be in good hands.
The Lady Warriors used two goals and a shutout defense to top Terrell's Herman Furlough, Jr. Middle School on Tuesday night at the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
It also marked the fourth consecutive game won by Howard Junior High School this season and an unblemished finish.
"Although I was unsure of the competition other teams would provide, I knew we had a strong core group of athletes and experienced soccer players," said Mary Bruce, the head coach of the Howard girls' soccer team. "The less experienced players showed more progress and improvement obviously as compared to the more experienced players because they began the season knowing very little about the sport. I am super proud of them for coming out day after day with a willingness to learn, try, fail, and for many of them compete for the first time."
In four games, the Lady Warriors allowed only outscored their opponents
Bruce and the Lady Warriors, behind two goals from seventh-grade forward Kaydence Ramirez — on placed perfectly in the top half of the net and another drilled in the back corner and inches above the diving goalkeeper's outstretched fingers.
"They could have seen the more experienced girls play, been intimidated, and walked away, but they didn’t," Bruce continued. "They were hungry to grow and improve. One girl was so visibly upset and nervous before playing her first soccer game ever against Lancaster but was smiling from ear to ear coming off the field at the end of the game."
She said a big part of their improvement was the leadership role her more experienced players took with the "newbies" by kicking them out of their comfort zones, providing them an opportunity to learn, grow, and be stretched beyond what they believed they were capable.
Blakely Knight and Dillon Wheeler and a nil net performance by Olivia Epps, closed their second season of play undefeated. They defeated Lancaster's Elsie Robertson Middle School during the April 20 season home opener and then again two weeks later on the road.
They also notched a 5-2 win against crosstown rival Finley Junior High School at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium with three goals from seventh grader Parker Renfro. two goals from Ramirez and five total assists from Renfro (1), Ramirez (2) and Wheeler (2).
Bruce credited eighth grader Izabella Curiel with managing center midfield with beautiful, controlled footwork, spot on passing and fierce defense. She also noted seventh-grade outside midfielders Cameron McBride, Emma Stevens and Morgan Kennedy served the team well at outside mid and eighth-grade midfielders Alyson Moore and Emma Curry were versatile and productive wherever the team needed them to shift into position.
The win against Terrell capped a season of junior high school soccer Bruce described as a road map to success on the high school level.
"Finishing 4-0 in their second season is promising for the future of WHS," Bruce said. "I am so grateful and excited to be a small part in building the program alongside Coach Venable, Coach West, and Coach De La Cruz. Coach Venable really is pioneering something great by starting and continuing this Junior High program and encouraging other districts to jump on board as well. As both Finley and Howard athletes unite forces upon entering high school, they should be explosive in the upcoming years."
---- Marcus S. Marion, @MarcusMarionWNI (469) 517-1456