By Greg Ford
The Lady Pirate and Lady Raider soccer teams kicked off the 2014 season at last weekend’s Wylie ISD Winter Classic, where the latter claimed the tournament title with three straight wins.
For each team, the three-day event, which offered three games for all the participants, provided an excellent opportunity to face regular-season competition, and not just during practice or scrimmages.
Wylie East defeated Berkner 7-0, Rowlett 2-0 and then Dallas Adamson 9-0 to claim the tourney crown. Meanwhile, the Lady Pirates tied John Paul II 0-0, blanked Naaman Forest 3-0 and South Garland 6-0.
Wylie played Tuesday at Frisco Liberty and will participate this weekend at the Jan. 16-18 Forney Lady Rabbit Invitational and then Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Crandall. The Lady Raiders hosted Plano East on Tuesday and will do the same Friday against Carrollton Creekview and then Tuesday, Jan. 21, versus Highland Park.
“Right now, we have about four or five seniors who are dealing with nagging injuries, little things,” Wylie head coach Chris Bezner said. “We’re trying to take care of them, so that way we don’t overdo them in the first tournament. We’re really using this first tournament to really try and get a look at some of the depth that we have.”
He added, “We are doing all right. We have seem several things that we need to improve upon, but the good thing is about the tournament is that we’ll see those things, and have plenty of time to iron them out. It’s a new team, new start, new year.”
A year ago, the Lady Pirates picked up steam as the season progressed, making it all the way to the Region II finals. The road to the 2014 playoffs does not begin until February with district play.
“(January) is a good opportunity for us to try different looks, different systems of play and different kids in different positions,” Bezner said. “Honestly, when we get into district, that’s when it matters and what can carry us to the state tournament. We understand that and are just trying to iron things out and use this time wisely to make adjustments … The goal is to hit district full-steam ahead on all cylinders.”
Over at East, head coach Kody Christensen and the Lady Raiders took their first steps toward what they expect will be another postseason appearance, and, hopefully, a deep run once there.
“I think we are in good shape,” Christensen said. “I think we looked exceptional when we were moving the ball. I think we took some good chances and scored some good goals … I hope we try to find a way to get better each week, but I feel we played very well this weekend. We were able to beat a good team in Rowlett, a good team in Berkner and finished off (against Adamson) with a good win.”
He added, “We face Plano East every year, and we hope that it will be another good game. We’re playing some new players and they’re playing some new players, so it’s a situation where we have to find a way to get a win against a pretty good 5A team … Carrollton Creekview is a playoff team every year, so that’s another playoff team we’re going to get to play in the preseason. I just wanted some quality matchups, and they are going to give us some quality opponents.”
Junior varsity girls
Wylie East defeated Little Elm 7-0 on Jan. 7 but then fell 2-0 to Wylie Friday in the Wylie ISD Winter Classic. However, they rebounded to beat Grand Prairie 3-0 on Saturday.
Varsity boys soccer
Wylie East defeated Lakeview Centennial in an overtime shootout, outscoring the Patriots 4-3 after the teams finished regulation deadlocked 2-2. They then beat Mansfield Summit 1-0 on Jan. 9, and then tied R.L.Turner 1-1 the next day. Oscar Salgado got the Raiders’ goal in that contest.
Ivan Benevides and Eno Benjamin each scored in a 2-2 tie with Woodrow Wilson on Jan. 10.
Junior varsity boys
Wylie East’s Andres Hernandez scored three goals in a 4-2 win over Lakeview on Jan. 7, with Everett Janway getting the other one. The Raiders then fell 2-1 to Newman Smith on Jan. 9.