Girls soccer: Mustangs set sights higher
The Memorial girls soccer team has won a district title in each of the last eight seasons, but this year the Mustangs are thinking more about just making the playoffs than a ninth straight district crown.
With the move from District 18-5A to 19-5A, the Mustangs move to a tougher and move competitive district with the six Katy ISD schools. Head coach Lindley Amarantos said she welcomes the move to the new district because of the competitiveness.
"We want to be competitive in the new district and make the playoffs," Amarantos said. "We know its going to be difficult because of the Katy ISD schools and how competitive they are. It is going to be a district that is going to challenge us every time we step on to the field."
The non-district slate isn't long, but it should be competitive. With the Spring Branch ISD Tournament and I-10 Shootout, as well as matches against Stratford and Clear Lake before district play begins Feb. 1, Amarantos should be able to accomplish some of her goals.
"We are hoping in non-district to face a difficult schedule that will help us nail down starters," she said. "We want to get through non-district healthy, but also work together as a team and get our game plan down."
Memorial is coming off a season that saw them win their eighth straight district title but get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by new district foe, Seven Lakes.
"We graduated several key starters off last year's team, so we have to find out who will fill those voids, but it's going to be different because last year we were playing against the Alief ISD schools that played a different style and weren't the level of competition the Katy schools are," Amarantos said. "The Katy schools have had a regional qualifier in each of the last couple years.
"This is a new season with a new mantra. If we don't ever win district again, we'll be OK with that as long as we make it into the playoffs, and we keep improving."
Nine seniors make up less than half of the Memorial roster. Senior Allie Russo, a University of Texas commit, and senior Mary Clare Bruce, a Washington & Lee commit, are the captains of the team. Both are three-year lettermen, who can play defense or forward.
Junior midfielders Emily Donnan and Rachel Owens are also two players Amarantos expects to come out and lead the team. Amarantos said Russo, Bruce, Donnan and Owens are "the cement core of the team."
The move into the new district will present the Mustangs with new challenges. The goals and expectations have changed for Memorial as well. The district title is still on the minds of the Mustangs, but facing tougher competition in Cinco Ranch, Seven Lakes, Mayde Creek, Morton Ranch, Katy and Katy Taylor has the Mustangs thinking more about just making the playoffs.
"We don't think we have any pressure on us to win a ninth straight district title because all of the old rules have been thrown out," Amarantos said. "We may not finish the district season with the record we have had in the past, but we are excited to go out and compete every game. With the teams we have in our district, it means the district title will be out there for anyone to take, and anything can happen."
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