By Colin Bado, TSB Contributor
McKinney North’s girls soccer team is one of the premier teams in the state and remains undefeated in District 17-4A. With two games remaining in district play, the Dawgs are a playoff favorite in a region replete with talented soccer teams.
North’s foundation to their success is derived from great leadership and team unity, and junior forward Belicia Mendiola displays all of that, in addition to incredible talent, to help lead the Dawgs.
“The girls have a different level of confidence when she is on the field,” North coach Lance Lovell said of Mendiola. “Belicia’s talent is undeniable, but the team augments her ability to be successful.”
Mendiola is one of the best players in the area. Her tenacity has facilitated 28 goals and eight assists so far. She is a physical player with an abundance of ball skill and creativity that few players possess.
Lovell identifies her as a “passionate person in all facets, on and off the field. Off the field, Belicia is smart and makes great grades, and there is no question about her character.”
Mendiola’s favorite subject is Pre-Calculus. That might explain why she has committed to Belmont University, a top-flight academic university located in Nashville, Tenn., where she plans to study Sports Science.
Her athletic ability and academic accolades only touch the surface of who she is as a person. Mendiola is a gracious young woman overflowing with enthusiasm and humility. Her relationship with her teammates goes beyond the pitch.
“We’re a family,” Mendiola said. “Our camaraderie has enabled us to create something special at North.” In fact, fellow star forward Hadlie Tucker played on the same club team as Mendiola, which established a relationship built on trust before their tenure began at North.
Mendiola’s life evolves around the game of soccer. The most popular sport in the world is a way of life in the Mendiola family. When asked what brought her family to McKinney she smiled and said, “We moved here when I was in the 6th grade for soccer.” Her father is the assistant coach at McKinney North, her big sister Micaela, or “Mikey,” is a senior captain on the team, and, her mother is in the stands at every game.
Mikey and Belicia are best friends, whether or not they are on the field. “We have a lot of fun, but we know when we need to be serious,” Mendiola said. On the field, Mikey maintains her big sister role, guiding Belicia and leading the team by example. Next year, Mikey will be in college and it is fair to assume that Belicia will adopt the leadership on the team.
Even off the field, when asked what she likes to do, without hesitation she answered, “I love to watch soccer.” An avid Liverpool fan, you can easily become sidetracked with Mendiola talking about different players and teams within the English Premier League.
Both Lovell and Mendiola are confident in North’s preparation as the season winds down and playoffs approach. The Lady Dawgs have seven shutouts in a row and don’t plan on letting up anytime soon. A certain swagger resonates from the players when interacting with the team. Lovell’s passion and dedication can be felt in the room.
“The girls are focused and know what they are here to do,” he said. “They have a wining mentality.”
The Lady Dawgs’ final district games will be played at home. The girls will host Prosper on Tuesday, March 19, at 7:15 p.m.
Right: Belicia Mendiola (#7) maneuvers the ball during a soccer game.
Photos courtesy of Kellie Anfonso