By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Soccer season officially returned Thursday morning with the annual Battle of 287 Tournament hosted by the Waxahachie Lady Indians.
The Lady Indians opened the annual Highway 287 Tournament by battling reigning District 14-5A champion (0-0-1) Red Oak to a 2-2 draw.
Waxahachie then soundly defeated Waco High, 6-0, late Thursday afternoon to improve to 1-0-1 on the young season.
Both teams are poised for breakout seasons in 2020.
The Lady Indians are once again loaded with talented underclassmen, as the roster features nine sophomores and four juniors.
Waxahachie finished the 2019 season with a 19-8 overall record and 10-6 mark in District 7-6A. The Lady Indians ultimately bowed out of the 6A postseason — their first-ever appearance in the state’s highest classification — in a 5-1 loss against Richardson Pearce.
The 19 wins were the most for the Lady Indians program since posting a 20-win season in 2012.
Senior defender Rockie Acosta, senior midfielder Angelica Gutierrez and senior midfielder Nina Ramirez will serve as the captains for this year’s Lady Indian squad. Stephanie Mendez, a defender, and Brooke Trull, a midfielder, join the threesome to comprise the 2020 senior class.
Acosta signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her playing career at the Texas A&M University — Texarkana next fall.
As for the youngsters returning for the Lady Indians, sophomore midfielder Peyton Renfro leads the bunch after she snagged District 7-6A Newcomer of the Year honors last season. She’ll be joined by 2019 all-district first-team selections and junior midfielders Bella Curiel and Angel Garfias.
The group of returners — led by TASCO Hall-of-Fame head coach Jason Venable — has already proved more than capable, as they outscored Granbury, Haltom, Arlington Sam Houston and Midlothian by a combined 19-1 during scrimmage action.
RED OAK PREVIEW
The Lady Hawks received goals from freshman Georgia Santos and sophomore Sarah Zamora on Thursday against Waxahachie. Santos and Marlen Mendez assisted on those scores in the 2-2 draw.
It might take a few matches for Lady Hawk supporters to adjust to not seeing Makayla Rushing’s name listed. After all, the since-graduated standout led all of Ellis County with 42 goals scored and 102 points (18 assists) last season.
Unfortunately, Red Oak also lost Madison Humphrey and Brooke Scott, who finished second and third on the team with 18 and 14 goals scored, respectively.
The Lady Hawks finished the 2019 season with an impressive 21-3-2 overall record and 9-1-2 mark in District 14-5A en route to an outright championship. Their postseason run came to an end in the area round against a stout Mount Pleasant team, 2-1.
Red Oak enters the season with four seniors, which includes three defenders in Anaiah Jennings, Heather Fellow and Kassandra Vega. The fourth senior is midfielder Emma Nance.
The Lady Hawks will, however, return both of their regular goalkeepers from a season ago in junior Megan Fellows and sophomore Alyssa Francis.
Fellows recorded 79 saves and allowed just seven, while Francis saved 41 shots and allowed four. The Lady Hawks, as a team, outscored the opposition 105-20 in 2019 under head coach Adam Prachyl.
Zamora is the leading goal-scorer returning in 2020. She posted 13 goals and two assists as a freshman.
Waxahachie closes out the tournament by facing Dallas Skyline at 4 p.m. Friday and Trimble Tech at 4 p.m. Saturday. Red Oak, meanwhile, faces Trimble Tech at 11:30 a.m. Friday and WT White and Waco High at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, respectively.
All matches consist of 40-minute halves and are being played on the campus of Waxahachie High School.
All photos by Kirk Holt/KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith