The beautiful game returns to McKinney this weekend as all area high schools – McKinney High, McKinney Boyd and McKinney North – open their regular seasons on the pitch in tournament play.
And to prepare for the soccer season, TownSquareBuzz.com will preview both the boys and girls teams for the upcoming season.
McKinney High School
“The element of surprise is gone,” Pocock said.
Pocock said last season MHS was not on the radar in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and at times McKinney surprised teams with its talent and ability. In the process, the Lions had their most successful season since 2000 when they were 5A-Division I runners-up.
He said a lot wasn’t expected out of his team in 2013, and many questioned whether they could carry the success from the 4A level to the 5A level.
McKinney “shattered all expectations,” Pocock said, finishing just shy of a 10-5A District title last season, though.
Pocock said last year’s team had great chemistry and leadership, which served as a “launching pad” for the Lions’ playoff run.
The 2013 season, however, could be an uncertain road for the Lions with Pocock saying the forward position is the only place on the field that has any experience. He added that the midfielders and defenders are new or received limited playing time in 2013.
Pocock, who will be entering his 23rd season at MHS, said the two players he will look toward for leadership and production on the field will be seniors Chris Shelby and Emilio Vega.
Despite that youth, Pocock said he is impressed with what he’s seen so far, as the Lions defeated Frisco 4-0 and Wylie 2-0 in scrimmages before they prepare for Dallas WT White in the Frisco Invitational Tournament starting Thursday.
“It’s going to be a great test for us,” Pocock said of the tournament.
McKinney opened against Dallas WT White Thursday at 3 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, and will face Mesquite Poteet at 2 p.m. and Mt. Pleasant at 7 p.m. at Pizza Hut Park Saturday.
The Lions will conclude tournament play Sunday.
The McKinney Boyd Broncos were crowned 10-5A District Champions in 2013. Boyd lost once in regulation last season as it marched to the 5A Regional Finals before falling to Humble Kingwood in a shootout.
The 2014 Broncos, however, lost 12 seniors and return just four starters – who head coach Casey Osborn will be relying heavily on.
“All those returning need to step up,” said Osborn, who is entering his fourth season as head coach.
Osborn explained last year’s team was a “cohesive unit” and played with a high level of chemistry and toughness. He added he had been with that group of players for three years, and they “owned the system,” knowing exactly where to be and when to be there.
Osborn said he will be looking to junior defender Haven Trahan, junior midfielder Hayden Brown, senior defender Connor Kennedy and goalkeeper Evan Davies to lead help lead his young Broncos through 2014.
While the 2014 Broncos are young and inexperienced, Osborn said they’re showing a lot of fire so far in the preseason.
But the biggest hurdle will be bringing it all together, which Osborn said he has enjoyed doing. He and his staff have done more coaching than prior years because of the youth on their roster.
And that coaching philosophy is centered on defense, but said the talent on the roster can adapt to play a more direct style – moving the ball into a shooting position using the fewest passes – or pushing the ball forward and taking chances on offense.
Despite losing 12 seniors from a district-championship team, Osborn said the expectations for 2014 haven’t changed, and expects his team to improve and once again compete for a 10-5A District title.
“The guys have really bought in…We’re hoping success breeds success,” Osborn said.
Boyd opens the season against Arlington Martin in the Grapevine Tournament Thursday at 3:45 p.m.
North will begin the 2014 season with a tough set of games in the Sherman/Denison varsity Cup Tournament starting Thursday, but defeated Allen 2-1 in a scrimmage before the season (see picture at top).
North is scheduled to play 5A teams Allen and McKinney in 2014.
Sills said he hopes playing tougher competition and teams within 5A will help his team grow and prepare them for the 13-4A action down the road.
Sills, who is entering his 6th season as North’s head coach, said he runs a 4-3-3 (4 forwards, 3 midfielders and 3 defenders) lineup and likes his team to attack when they get the chance, but prefers them to play more of a ball-possession game.
And he will be looking toward senior Rockie Armijo, senior Anthony Sanders and Kyle Biggio, who Sills said will be North’s “main scorer.”
North finished 2013 with a 9-10 overall record, but 6-2 in district play before falling to Frisco Wakeland in the Regional Semi-Finals.
He added if his team stays healthy and his players learn to mesh together heading down the stretch, he expects to make a long run into the playoffs.
“I expect big things for us,” Sills said.
Photo by Kellie Anfosso