State tournament has two returning teams, including Kennedale as defending state champ
Salado Lady Eagles will face the Jasper Lady Dogs (22-3-1) in the 4A girls soccer state semi-finals at 11 a.m. April 13 at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown after beating Boerne 3-1 in the Region IV finals on April 9.
Jasper and Kennedale both return from last year’s state tournament, which Kennedale won by defeating Princeton 4-1 in the finals. Jasper went into the tournament last year with a 26-0 record and lost to Princeton 4-3 in the semi-final.
Jasper returns 11 players from the state semi-finalist team: Julie Carter, #1, sophomore, forward; Shay Cochran, #4, junior, defender; Kylee Dominy, #5, sophomore, midfielder; Kaitlyn Campos, #7, jnuior, midfielder; Caitlyn Warren, #10, junior, defender Jordan Luther, #12, sophomore, defender; Yvette Carter, #13, junior, goalkeeper; Salma Segovia, #14, sophomore midfielder; Alivia Richardson, #15, junior, midfielder; Macy Kendrick, #18, junior, midfielder and Natalia Zavala, #19, sophomore, forward. Zavala was named to the State All-Tournament team last year.
The Lady Dogs started their season with two losses to 6A teams The Woodlands and Magnolia West. They also lost to Royse City and tied Port Neches-Groves. The girls have not lost since Jan. 20. They won District 18-4A with an 8-0 record.
The Lady Dogs have run through playoff competition thus far, allowing only one goal to be scored in the past five games. Jasper beat the following: Bi-district, 6-0 over Lorena; Area, 6-0 over Little Cypress; Region Quarters, 9-0 over China Spring; Regin Semi, 7-0 over Bay City and Region III Final, 4-1 over Hardin-Jefferson.
Salado has a deep reserve of experience as 17 of the 20 players return from last year’s 25-2 team. The Lady Eagles were knocked out of the playoffs in the Region IV Finals by Boerne. Boerne lost 4-3 in the semi-final round to Kennedale.
Among the Salado returners are two All-State honorees. Senior goalkeeper Sam Isbell was named to the Second Team All-State last year. She was also named the District 25-4A Goalkeeper MVP. She anchored a defense last year that allowed just seven goals to be scored the entire season.
Junior forward Sara Wilkerson was also named to the All State Second Team, first team All-District and was the team’s Offensive MVP. Wilkerson led the team with 47 points, scoring 20 goals and giving seven assists.
Senior midfielder China Saxton was named to the first team All-Region, as well as being the District 25-4A Overall MVP. She scored 43 points last year, from 17 goals and 9 assists. This year,
Senior midfielder Katey Ewton received All-Region Honorable Mention and first team All-District honors. Ewton had 24 points last year from nine goals and six assists.
Other returning players that were named to last year’s All-District first team were these: senior defender Morgan Bird, senior defender Carly Nichols, junior midfielder Kristin Crouch and sophomore defender Reagan Morrealle, who was named the Freshman MVP last year.
Returners named to last year’s All District second team are senior midfielder Jessica Ringstaff, junior forward Annie Ewton, junior midfielder Olivia Sula. Senior midfielder Daniela Gantenbein and sophomore midfielder Ashlen LaCanne received All-District honorable mention last year.
Other players returning from last year’s varsity team are senior midfielder Julie Craig, junior forward Rebecca Gonzalez, sophomore forward Tyler Pierce and senior defender Carly Nichols.
Newcomers to this year’s varsity team are senior forward Taylor Schoenrock, sophomore midfielder Rylie Stewart and freshman midfielder Brileigh Cole.
Salado has had an impressive run through its playoff opponents, as well: Bi-district, 10-0 over LaGrange; Area, 2-0 over Wimberley to avenge the only loss of the year; Regional Quarters, 3-1 over Giddings who were then ranked #1 in the state; Regional Semis, 2-0 over Rockport-Fulton and Regional Finals, 3-1 over Boerne, who ousted Salado in last year’s Regional Finals.
Kennedale also returns an experience-laden team from last year’s state championship. The Lady Kats are 25-2 on the year, having made an undefeated run through District XX-4A. Their only losses were to Midlothian (1-0) and Martin (4-2) back-to-back in late January.
Interestingly, both Midlothian and Martin were knocked out of the 6A girls playoffs by Flower Mound (15-3-6), which is in the state semi-finals this week as well.
Kennedale is coached by Michael Strange. Returning from last year’s state championship team are these: Sara Calzada, #0, junior, goalkeeper; Marisa Echtle, #1, sophomore, defender; Abigail Olmos, #3, senior, midfielder; Baylee Gow, #5, junior, forward; Emily Hamilton, #6, junior, forward; Kylie Deel, #7, senior, defender; Cara Hunt, #8, senior, midfielder Alondra Olmos, #10, junior, midfielder; Daphne Hunt, #11, sophomore, defender; Megan Jakubisin, #12, sophomore, midfielder; Claire Hamilton, #16, senior, defender; Lauren Otts, #17, senior, defender and Alexis Thornton, #20, senior, midfielder.
Kennedale has four players returning who were named to the State All-Tournament team: Abigail Olmos, Alondra Olmos, Claire Hamilton and Tournament MVP Alexis Thornton.
Kennedale cruised past most of its playoff opponents: Bi-district, 12-0 over Hampton; Area, 9-2 win over Celina; Region Quarters, 3-1 over Argyle; Region Semis, 7-1 over Stephenville and Region Finals, 4-0 over Wylie.
Kilgore is the winner of District 16 in Region II. In their play off run, Kilgore allowed just three goals to be scored in five games: Bi-district, 9-0 over Gladewater; Area, 11-0 over Liberty-Eylau; Region Quarters, 2-1 over Kilgore-Mabank; Region Semis, 3-2 over Community; Region Finals, 7-0 over Athens.