By Greg Ford
Two years, two trips to the playoffs, and losing to the same school each time in the second round.
That pretty much sums up Wylie East’s last couple of soccer seasons, during which the Raiders have made the area round, only to lose to Forney in 2012 and 2013.
In 2014, the Raiders will again return to the postseason — they have an automatic spot by playing in the four-team District 21-4A — and this time they want to go further.
“We want to win district (again), that’s our first goal,” head coach John True said. “I don’t want to say that our goal is to get to the second round and win. Of course, we do want to go further than we did the year before.”
The Raiders will attempt to do that with a squad that returns a number of players, but also which has to replace a number of graduated starters.
“We have good nucleus coming back from last year,” True said. “We had sophomores who played a lot … We lost four of five All-District performers. So we have to replace them, and that is going to be very difficult. I think our kids are up to the challenge … I think by the end of the year we will definitely be a formidable team.”
Among those back for the Raiders are Ivan Benevides, a returning All-District player, Filip Jancic, Tanner Booth, Benito Silverio, Oscar Salgado and Alex Haney.
“We’ve got a good core, but we’ve got some players who need to step up and find their role, and get extensive playing time,” True said.
The non-district season will be used to develop team chemistry and prepare the Raiders for 21-4A play. During the predistrict campaign, which runs through the middle of February, the Raiders will play in some tournaments and square off against numerous 5A schools.
“We try and see some of the teams who we are going to play, maybe, in the playoffs.” True said. “Really, we’re playing a lot of 5A schools in predistrict. We’ve got Sachse (Jan. 21 at Sachse) and Rowlett (Jan. 28 at home) to name a few.”