With the calendar turning to January, the Wylie girls soccer team is looking to jump start their new season. In many ways, they are hoping to build off a strong showing last winter, when they went 15-7-2, including 11-5 in district play.
However, they are also looking to bounce back from an abrupt ending when their season came to an end in the opening round of the playoffs. It was a mixed bag of emotions that fueled the fire all offseason, and now it’s time to kick off the new year.
“Last year we had a good season,” Coach Chris Bezner said. “There were definitely ups and downs. We had our challenges in certain areas that we needed to address. Those prevented us from advancing in the playoffs like we thought we could. We’ve addressed them. At the end of the day, it’s a new season, this is a new squad, and we have a new energy.”
Indeed, it is a new season, and this team will establish their own identity in the coming weeks. Fortunately, Coach Bezner has a group of experienced players that have seen plenty of minutes to prepare for the challenge ahead.
“We are really excited about the direction for this year,” said Coach Bezner. “Every year we come up with a theme. This year our seniors came up with the theme 212 degrees. That is the boiling point.”
“Last year, we had sometimes where we were hot, around 210 degrees, maybe 211,” he added. “At the end of the day, we weren’t able to reach hot enough. We weren’t as good as we needed to be. We couldn’t push it to that next level. That’s been the focus to this point. Putting forth that extra degree to get where we want to be. Whether it’s in preparation, training, the weight room, film study. We are looking to put forth that little extra effort. Hopefully that will propel us to a pretty good run in the postseason.”
With 14 seniors on the roster, this year’s team should have no issues with maturity or experience. That experience is no more evident than on the back line for Coach Bezner.
Seniors Jordan John (center back) and Jaydn Leblond (outside back) are two defenders that played on back line a year ago. With them leading the way defensively, sophomore Addison Waters will step into a spot on the backline to help solidify a unit that had plenty of bright spots a year ago.
“They knew that, at times, we did some good things but we it just wasn’t enough,” Coach Bezner said “Our goal isn’t to just sit back and defend for 80 minutes. They know they have to do some things to help us (in transition). That is a group that is looking forward to working together.”
While the back line will look similar, Coach Bezner is mixing some things up in the midfield and front. Still, he believes he has plenty of solid options to fill those roles.
“Mia Narvaez is a senior who is moving back to the midfield, though she will occasionally play up,” he said. “Junior Mia Romero and senior Jordyn Vitale will join her in the midfield. They were all on varsity last year and got significant minutes. This year, you can tell they are hungry.”
With a lot of moving parts on the offensive half of the formation, Wylie will need to once again lean on their defense to lead the way. Still, Coach Bezner is hoping that the changes will eventually yield results.
“Grace Paul, who was a defender last year, has transitioned to forward,” Coach Besner said. “We may have a few others that rotate there as well. Sophomores Taylor Kelly and Maci Hatzenbuehler are both looking to take the leap to bring more to the team than they did last year. Cameron Pero and Betty Daniel are both the same as (Kelly and Hatzenbuehler). They were freshmen last year, and now have that year under their belt.”
Only time will tell how the girls will adjust to some new roles and pieces in the lineup. Still, Coach Bezner is thrilled with what he’s seen from the girls leading up to their first tournament.
“It’s great to see everyone buying in and excited,” he said. “We just have a lot of good kids that are willing to do whatever role we throw at them. They want more out of this (season) than we got last year.”
The girls will host their annual tournament this week, Jan. 4-6, to open the year. They will kick things off on Thursday with a matchup against McKinney at 1:40 p.m.
By Austin Smith • [email protected]
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