By Colin Bado, TSB Contributor
Led by veteran coach Lance Lovell, the McKinney North Lady Bulldog soccer team has seen their share of success before the start of District 13-4A play. With the 2013 season well underway, the Lady Bulldogs have a record of 9-2-3, outscoring their opponents 34-14.
Considering their success, Lovell said that the girls had spent many hours in the offseason preparing to be successful on the field. During the fall the UIL limits the practice time and despite the practice limitations, he already had a good idea of his roster by late September.
With the time he did have with the team, Lovell utilized it by having his team working in small groups, focusing on their fundamentals and technique. Two days a week he had the girls in the weight room and on the field working on their fitness and agility.
“I have a great group of girls,” said Lovell. “They have tremendous character and their work ethic is second to none.”
Even though North has more than doubled their opponents in goals scored, the Lady Bulldogs have not fluffed their schedule with lackluster opponents. They have encountered both state ranked opponents and a few 5A schools in non-district play.
At the Dr. Pink Tournament in Frisco, the Lady Bulldogs came across difficult
competition and finished with a 2-0-2 record, with victories over Plano East and El Paso Del Valle. When asked about his the advantages of playing in such a competitive tournament early in the season, Lovell said it was a true measuring stick to evaluate where his team was.
“The Dr. Pink tournament allowed us to play tough some tough competition right off the bat,” said Lovell. “Playing these competitive teams enables us to see our deficiencies and what we need to work on.
Recently North took home first place at the Heritage Tournament in Frisco, outscoring the opposition 13-3 and finishing with a perfect 3-0-0 mark.
With six seniors on the roster, North relies on leadership from captains Jackie Bucy and Micaela (Mikey) Mendiola. While both are essential to North’s success, center midfielder Bucy plays a pertinent roll on the team and is respected by teammates through her vocal leadership, as she often times directs the flow of play from the center of the field.
Bucy has worked particularly hard this year after a season ending injury in
2012. Her determination and skill has earned her the opportunity to sign with
Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.
On the other hand, Mendiola has been plagued by injuries this season, but is an important cog in the Lady Bulldogs system when healthy.
Up front North is blessed with two notable forwards, Belicia Mendiola and
Hadlie Tucker. Mendiola had scored 16 goals entering Tuesday night, while Tucker has seen recent success at the Heritage tournament and is becoming another threat for opponents to worry about.
One of the most imporant players on the field is a team’s goalie, and North’s Clarissa Ledesma has stepped up to the challenge of defending the net this season. She has allowed just nine goals this season and shutout two opponents, but Lovell said he would like to see that shutout number increase over the district season.
“We’ve allowed a lot of one goal games,” said Lovell. “A lot of the goals were through careless mistakes that we need to work on.”
While North has seen quite a bit of early season success through the non-district portion of the season, district play begins on Feb. 12 at Denison and will begin the portion of the schedule that truly matters. When asked where his team can continue to improve, Lovell said playing a full game at high intensity will be important to district success.
“We need to play at a consistent level of intensity all the time,” said Lovell. “We can’t let our opponents dictate out level of play. We need to get better as play transitions from offense to defense and vice versa. I would also like to see our outside midfielders getting more crosses in from the outside.”
North will finish up non-district play with a home match versus Wylie on Tuesday night, beginning at 7:15 p.m.