Best of 2024

Top-ranked Lady Raiders amping up focus this winter

by | Jan 4, 2024 | Sports

The 2024 season couldn’t come soon enough for the Wylie East soccer girls. After ripping off 28-straight wins a year ago to open the season, the Lady Raiders lone loss would be their final contest, as they fell in double-overtime to Fort Bend Ridge Point in the State Semifinals.

It was a disappointing end to an incredible season that sparked high expectations for the future. The lofty prospect of winning a title was only further ingrained when the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches Class 6A preseason rankings were released with Wylie East sitting atop the list.

There is no doubt that the Lady Raiders are one of the top teams in the state on the soccer pitch. Coach Kody Christensen had seven girls score in double-figures a year ago, with all six returning this winter.

Amaya Dawkins led the way with 33 goals and 32 assists, while Ragan Hollis wasn’t far behind with 26 goals and 13 helpers and Ryleigh Wood put in 17 goals and 18 assists. The trio is part of a talented pair of back-to-back classes with Dawkins and Hollis being two of Coach Christensen’s eight seniors.

In addition, a stout defense that allowed just nine goals in 29 contests also has plenty of pieces coming back. The combination led to Wylie East having one of the most lopsided scoring differentials in the state at 160-9.

Still, Coach Kody Christensen is not allowing the allure of last year’s success to linger into the upcoming campaign. In fact, he’s pushing the girls have a short memory through the 2024 season as the Lady Raiders look to bring home a title.

“Coming off a year like last year where so many great things happened, we can’t lose focus,” Coach Christensen said. “One of the things we are focused on this year is trying to stay locked in on going 1-0 every game. You don’t get to where we were last year by looking ahead.”

“It’s a step-by-step process to get there, and we have reminded them of the difficult route we had to take,” he added. “From preseason, to offseason, to the (regular-season schedule), you have to take it stage by stage, game-by-game. Our approach is to attack the 1-0 mentality.”

That won’t be easy for a team that came so close to advancing to the title game last April. However, it will be necessary as Coach Christensen knows everyone will have a target painted on the Lady Raiders’ backs.

Fortunately, the talent is all there to handle the kind of pressure that comes with being a top-ranked team. With 16 players coming back, and some bright new faces ready to compete, Wylie East has the skill and depth to make another run.

“I feel comfortable saying we can play with most everybody,” Coach Christensen said. “Suffering that first loss in the State Tournament was difficult for our kids to swallow, but we know that is where we want to get back to. We want that shot. We feel confident in the players we have returning. We have a great group of seniors. Lots of great defending across the board. We can score a lot of goals. We just have to keep that 1-0 mentality.”

The girls opened their season last Friday against McKinney and are set to compete in their first tournament this week in their hometown event. The Lady Raiders will take on Vandegrift, Plano and Denton Braswell from Jan 4-6. Their first action will come on Thursday at 7:10 p.m.

By Austin Smith • [email protected]

For more stories like this, see the January 3, 2024 print, or digital edition of The Wylie News. Subscribe today and support local journalism in your community.

Best of 2024

0 Comments

Order photos

Related News

Hot start fuels Wylie win over Titans

Hot start fuels Wylie win over Titans

Kamsi Ikegbunam (21) goes up for the two-handed flush in Wylie’s 72-38 victory over South Garland. The Pirates only took the floor once last week, as they prepare for the second half of their district schedule. Austin Smith/The Wylie News GARLAND – The Wylie Pirates...

read more
Shutouts keep coming for stingy Lady Raiders

Shutouts keep coming for stingy Lady Raiders

Karlee Leary (19) looks to switch the field with a pass across the pitch. The Wylie East girls moved to 6-0 last week with wins over Longview and Longview Pine Tree.  Oladipo Awowale/The Wylie News LONGVIEW – The Wylie East girls hit the road last week for a pair of...

read more
Raiders notch two shutout wins in WISD Showcase

Raiders notch two shutout wins in WISD Showcase

Dylan Falay (10) dribbles the ball through traffic in the Raiders’ opening game of their hometown invitational. Wylie East shut out Rock Hill and Clear Springs before falling to Community on the final day.  Oladipo Awowale/The Wylie News WYLIE – For the second...

read more
Pirates sweep three games in WISD Showcase

Pirates sweep three games in WISD Showcase

Zach Alsahli (24) races down the field on the attack in Wylie’s 3-0 win over Clear Springs in the Wylie ISD Soccer Showcase. The Pirates won all three of their games at the event, moving to 7-1 in the non-district schedule. Oladipo Awowale/The Wylie News WYLIE – The...

read more
Wylie looking to get back on track after split

Wylie looking to get back on track after split

The Pirates wrapped up December with a rough showing in the Allen Holiday Classic, and that skid continued with their first district loss last week. The Pirates split their two district games last week, falling to Sachse before putting up a bounce-back effort against...

read more
Raiders sweep Jacket Cup in Rockwall

Raiders sweep Jacket Cup in Rockwall

ROCKWALL – The Wylie East boys soccer team certainly started their season on the right foot last week. The Raiders traveled to Rockwall for their first tournament of the year, winning each of their three contests at the event. The guys kicked things off with a 2-1 win...

read more
Lady Pirates enter season with more to prove

Lady Pirates enter season with more to prove

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...

read more
Lady Pirates show out in DISD tourney to cap big month

Lady Pirates show out in DISD tourney to cap big month

December was quite the month for the Wylie Lady Pirates, as the girls jumped to No. 23 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Class 6A rankings. They news came right before the Lady Pirates traveled to Dallas to compete in the 83rd Annual DISD Holiday Invitational,...

read more
Wylie East catches fire to win Kaufman Tourney

Wylie East catches fire to win Kaufman Tourney

In their final tournament of the regular season, the Raiders put up one heck of an effort in Kaufman. After sweeping their two group games last Wednesday, Wylie East topped the host team before defeating Midlothian in the title game of the event. It was an exceptional...

read more
Under new guidance, Wylie East excited for season

Under new guidance, Wylie East excited for season

Things are going to look very different for the Wylie East boys soccer team this winter. Coming off an 11-12-1 campaign in which the Raiders went 6-10 in the district, the winds of change swept through town last spring. Enter Coach Trey Vaut, a decorated player in his...

read more
Best of 2024