By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The City of Midlothian has continued its dominance on the soccer pitch, as all four varsity programs have once again and officially claimed district titles.
And, following Friday’s tilts, each of the four has also won their respective bi-district championships too.
This season would’ve marked the third consecutive season for such an occurrence — had COVID-19 had not ended last season before the playoff stroll.
With that spirit in mind and as the multiplatinum recording artist Drake once claimed in his “Started from the Bottom” single, “We don’t like to do too much explaining. Story stayed the same; [We] never changed it.”
So, here we are. All four Midlothian ISD soccer programs are once again thriving.
To get to the postseason, the Midlothian Heritage girls’ and boys’ programs each locked up their district championships this past Friday with wins against Alvarado (5-nil) and Life Oak Cliff (3-1), respectively. The Midlothian Lady Panthers and Panthers then followed suit this past Monday evening by sweeping Joshua for a pair of District 14-5A titles. The girls’ won 2-nil on a pair of Bailey Wesco goals (28′, 64′), while the boys followed with a 1-nil victory on a first-half Jeremy Cundiff goal from inside the box.
Of the three “primary” sports to complete seasons thus far in 2020-21 — volleyball, football and soccer — Midlothian ISD has at least a share of a district title in 11 of its 12 opportunities. The lone team to fall short was the Panther football team, which was nixed from the postseason by a silly DEC rule.
As Drake warned us all in his 2018 song “Talk it up,” we “can’t be ignoring the stats, based off of that.” And we shouldn’t. Midlothian ISD is a state soccer power, whether you want to recognize it or not.
Perfection is often used rather loosely in the sports world. Yet, for five consecutive district seasons, there is no other word that properly describes the Midlothian Heritage girls’ soccer team and its play.
The Jaguars recently completed their fifth straight undefeated district title this past Friday by downing Alvarado, 5-nil, to claim the 8-4A title.
They then defeated Diamond Hill-Jarvis, 12-nil, in the 4A Region I bi-district championship on Friday.
The clean sheet was the 13th of the season for goalkeepers Jaedyn Barela (senior) and Tanner Sorenson (freshman) and company. The Heritage program, meanwhile, has won 41 consecutive district matches — with their last loss coming against Kennedale on March 4, 2016, in the program’s first varsity season. Oddly enough, the Jaguars began their district-winning streak with a victory against Diamond Hill-Jarvis four days later.
Heritage entered the playoffs with a 20-1-0 record, having outscored their opposition 105 goals to 10. The lone loss this season came on Jan. 28 against TAPPS power and four-time state champion Nolan Catholic, 3-nil.
The Jaguars previously won MISD’s first-ever team state championship by defeating Liberty Hill in the 2018 4A title match at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown. They’ll look to repeat that magical season as the top-ranked team in Class 4A ahead of the 2020-21 playoffs.
As Drake once claimed to have done following his regular role on a television sitcom and rise to hip-hop stardom, the Jaguars quite literally “started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
The entire 4A girls’ soccer playoff field is more than aware of Midlothian Heritage’s accent, too.
As that same semi-lyricist once said, “Goin’ back to back” was the plan for the Midlothian Heritage boys’ soccer team from day one of the 2020-21 season. And the Jaguars did just that, claiming their second-consecutive District 8-4A championship with a 3-1 road victory on this past Friday against Life Oak Cliff.
The Jaguars then defeated Fort Worth Western Hills, 7-nil, in the 4A Region I bi-district tilt on Friday.
Heritage will look to continue the “back to back” mantra with a run to the 4A state tournament, which featured Heritage in the 2019 state finals. Though Heritage fell to San Elizario (1-nil) in that match, COVID-19 forced the 2019-20 soccer season to end well before any trips to Georgetown were made.
So, technically, the Jaguars are still the reigning 4A state finalists.
The Midlothian Lady Panthers had an opportunity and senior-laden class to make a legitimate run at Georgetown pre-COVID shutdown.
At the time of the outbreak, the Lady Panthers were 17-1-2 and riding a 12-match winning streak. They had outscored the opposite side 56-7 on the season.
COVID then put an abrupt halt to those dreams. A reloaded and experienced squad now looks to make a little noise in the 5A playoffs.
The Lady Panthers ultimately regrouped and finished the 2020-21 regular season 13-3-5 after a 10-0-2 run through District 14-5A.
Prior to kicking off the postseason, Midlothian had not dropped a match over its past 13, having outscored the opposition 55-5 over that span — including nine clean sheets.
Friday’s bi-district victory against Royse City, 3-nil, ran that streak to 14 consecutive matches without a loss while outscoring the opposing side 58-5 with 10 clean sheets.
Allyson Gibbs led the Lady Panthers with 15 goals through the regular season, while Mariah Griffin had nine and Kennedy Husbands and Abby Powers both scored six.
Junior goalkeeper Landry Combs has provided the Lady Panthers’ confidence in goal.
It’s safe to insert the same “Back to Back” mantra here, as well.
It came down to a free kick in the final 19 seconds Friday, but the Midlothian Panthers defeated Forney, 2-1, in the 5A Region II bi-district championship.
Junior Aidan Williams took the left-footed free-kick from 14 yards out and senior Ryan Tate sent a header past the Jackrabbit goalkeeper for the win.
Our boys just took us for a straight emotional rollercoaster.
This beauty of a free kick with 19 SECONDS left put the result at a 2-1 comeback WIN.
✌🏽 for ✌🏽 tonight for the program.
On to the next! pic.twitter.com/y3hpHcowcG
— MHS Girls Soccer (@midlo_gsoccer) March 27, 2021
The all-in effort is not new for the Panthers, either.
Midlothian finished the regular season 13-8-3 overall and 9-1-2 in District 14-5A.
The contributions were balanced too. Guiany Tello (9 goals), Williams (8) and Nathan Wagner (8) led the way in goals scored throughout the regular season.
As of publication, no dates/time/opponents had been set for any of the four area championship matches.
Yet, regardless of the postseason outcome, all four Midlothian soccer teams will hope to mirror Drake’s outlook in the “Summer Sixteen.”
“As I’m back in the city they throw a parade,” he sang. “I might get a key to the city and give it to Wayne. Or give it to one of the young [players] to carry the wave.”
And in Midlothian, the younger players are undoubtedly ready to carry the momentum — that much is for sure. But there’s no reason not to make a couple of runs at Birkelbach Field this season.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith