As the team continues to win, the expectations for the Wylie Pirates girls soccer team will continue to increase.
The Pirates finished the 2021-22 season first overall in District 9-6A, reaching the playoffs with an undefeated record. After winning their first team playoff games, they were finally knocked out by Rockwall in the regional quarterfinals, but it still made for a landmark season for head coach Chris Bezner and his team. For now, however, the team is only focused on next season.
“I think the girls are aware that everyone is now looking at them in district, but they’re doing a good job of not thinking too far ahead,” Bezner said. “We’re not even thinking about district at this point, and we want to have tunnel vision focus on the game in front of us. The last thing we want to do is spend time comparing ourselves this season to last season or the year before that, so it’ll come down to staying disciplined and focused.”
Early in the year, there’s been positive signs for the Pirates in preseason. They scrimmaged McKinney Boyd, the preseason No. 2 ranked team in 6A and played to a 1-1 draw. With results like that early on, the team is showing it has what it takes to make a run at a third straight district title.
“We’re moving along well and progressing well,” Bezner said. “We’ve played well this preseason and the girls are working hard this offseason to get to where we need to be. We had 13 seniors last year and with only a handful of returning players, we’re seeing how this team gels together.”
Despite the graduating seniors, Wylie will again be led by a backline that surrendered just eight goals all last season. District 9-6A Defensive MVP Reagan Venditto returns for the season, along with district newcomer of the year Jadyn Leblond and goalkeeper of the year Caleigh Monroe. As part of the returning core of the team, they’ll be tasked with providing excellent defense again this season.
“Defensively we should be solid,” Bezner said. “It’s one of the strengths of our team and seniors in Caleigh and Reagan. We have a lot of pieces in place coming back and some seniors stepping up that will provide us some depth. It’s still a few new pieces but they’re slowly building the trust necessary to compete at the highest level and I’m confident they’ll be ready for the season.”
In the attack, Jordyn Vitale was one of the top goalscorers for the Pirates last season and she’ll be tasked with being one of the catalysts to the Wylie attack that lost district MVP Morgan Brown and senior Lindsey Beyers from last season. She scored the lone goal in their preseason tie with McKinney Boyd last week.
“It’s going to be about the same for her this season, but she’s going to get a lot more opportunities this season,” Bezner said. “She’s a very skilled soccer player and I think she’ll be up for the challenge. We’re going to have to lean on her a little more this season and she has what it takes.”
As the team searches for more attacking options to step up this season, that will be the key for success for the Pirates this season. Emma Yosten, Mia Narvaez and Zikoria Oguanobi will all get a chance to earn minutes at forward this season as the team gears up for the start of the regular season on Jan. 3 at home against Rockwall-Heath.
“They’re all going to get a chance to show what they can do,” Bezner said. “We’ll see if one or more of them can step up to the challenge.”