3 Lady Indians headline program's momentum after state recognition

Three varsity Lady Indians joined 12 other women in an exclusive Waxahachie High School club on Monday, when the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches Organization released its annual all-state and all-region selections for class 5A.

Juniors Abigail Martinez and Ariana Acosta and sophomore Taylor Camp became the 13th, 14th and 15th soccer players in WHS girls soccer history to make TASCO’s list since the program’s inception in 2000.

“It shows the reputation we continue to have thanks to those who went before us,” said Martinez, district 14-5A’s Offensive MVP, about players like Tierney Thomison, Brandi Battles and Mackenzie Posey who paved the way for them. “For other coaches to nominate us, being the fourth place team in the district and only going to round two of the playoffs, it shows what we’ve built here and pushes to want to work harder.”

The trio of Martinez, Acosta and Camp, all district 14-5A first-team selections, were chosen via a vote from a consortium of 179 Region 2 5A coaches from a pool of more than 2,600 eligible players.

Martinez joins Aerial Horton, Sarah Hay, Natalie Kelly, Emily Saunders, Tara Bamburg and Katie Hinds as the team’s multiple-year winners.

Only Hay, a goalkeeper, and Kelly, a defensive midfielder, who received selections in 2009, 2010 and 2011, have three all-state or all-region selections.

Camp, a sophomore goalkeeper who was selected during her first year at WHS, has a chance to be the next multi-year selection. The last Lady Indians athlete to receive an all-state bid in a freshman or sophomore season was Kelly in 2009.

“I wasn’t always this good. It took a lot of work and extra training to get where I am now,” Camp said with a grin, slightly shifting her weight on a wooden bench inside the high school’s multipurpose training facility. “It’s definitely an honor I’m going to use to help push me harder next year.”

In addition to practicing five to six days a week with the WHS soccer program, Camp plays club soccer on the Division I level in the Lake Highlands Girls Classic League and trains privately in goalkeeping year round.

“Club soccer puts you at the top competition levels,” Camp continued. “In high school, you play some who never played soccer before but in club (soccer), you’re facing players who have played for 15 or more years. There’s a lot of leagues when you start thinking club. There’s ECNL (Elite Clubs National League), Division I, II and III Lake Highlands and smaller leagues in Plano and Arlington that have divisions.”

Those clubs and the guidance from head coach Jason Venable, assistant head coach Edward De La Cruz and assistant coach Mandy Allen helped the Melissa High School transfer become one of the program’s best netminders during her first year.

She pitched five shutouts during the season — eighth behind Hay (55), Bamburg (43), Brooke Payne (16.5), Elizabeth Gish (15), Erin Moon (12) and Brittany Martin (8), and her goals-against-per-game average (1.38) trails Hay, Gish, Payne, Bamburg, Moon and Megan Willoughby by less than one goal.

The last time WHS had an all-state and all-region selection (Hay, Kelly, Saunders and Jacey Hamilton), the varsity girls soccer team reached regionals. Between 2009 and 2011, the Lady Indians won the regional semifinal round twice and the regional quarterfinals once.

The high school has never had two state awards in a single year before Acosta and Camp.

“Going into the season we didn’t really think about being recognized at the end by the team, much less the state,” Acosta said. “You really are only focused on winning, bonding as a team and trying to make it through the district. Now that we have a chance to sit back and think about it, making it to the second round of the playoffs and being recognized by TASCO and the state is an honor because it’s not common.”

Camp, ECNL club players Acosta and Martinez and the Lady Indians finished in the top four teams in terms of defense and goals against. Acosta said that aspect and their rise to state recognition are more a consequence of their team’s support rather than individual performance.

“My, Abby and Taylor’s awards recognize the program and the city of Waxahachie and really shows how hard we had to work to get there as a team,” she continued. “It not only showcases us, but everyone else who worked hard to help us get here.”

Throughout the 16-year Lady Indians soccer history, there have been highs and lows, regional titles and regular season disappointments and numerous award winners, but what WHS has built with the success and turmoil is a legacy.

Martinez said the legacy, more than the awards, is why the recognition is special.

“It’s all about keeping the legacy alive and tradition going,” she said about their impact on the girls that will follow them through the program once they’ve graduated. “We’ve worked so hard and put in so much effort since we’ve been freshmen to make this program better and win every game we could. Keeping it alive means everything. It’s the goal.”