By Colin Bado, TSB Contributor
Alex Pantarotto is in his 19th season as the McKinney High girls soccer coach. This comes as no surprise since the veteran continues to be successful year in and year out. The 2013 season is no exception with the team currently standing at 6-0, five of which were shutouts.
Pantarotto’s coaching philosophy hasn’t changed over the years. As an Argentinian, he grew up in a country where soccer reigns supreme in the sports world. Argentina has produced some of the best soccer players in the history of the sport, including the most recent number one player in the world, Lionel Messi.
“We live and breathe soccer in Argentina. I’ve used my background to create a system of play
that is applicable to the girls,” Pantarotto said.
When asked about becoming jaded after spending nearly two decades in McKinney, Pantarotto expressed the unlikelihood of that ever happening. “Every season brings new blood and new life to the team,” he said. “I look forward to new freshman coming in and seeing new talent.”
Coaching 19 girls soccer teams over the years allows for many different dynamics and
Pantarotto says this year is no exception.
This team is special in their own way. They have great chemistry. The girls are unselfish and get along well on and off the field, expressed Pantarotto, and they share the common goal of winning.
With only four seniors on the team, the Lionettes do not lack direction or leadership.
“The girls are passionate and know what they’re here to do,” he said.
Captains Natalie Throneberry and Lizzie Navarette take on the roll as forerunners and set a great example for the underclassmen. The Lionette defense is lead by goalie Madelynn Schober. The defense continues to dominate their competition as they’ve allowed only one goal thus far. Statistically, Throneberry leads the team with six goals and three assists.
In January, the Lionettes experienced their first big success of the season, winning the 2013 Dr. Pink Silver Division Championship. Soccer tournaments can have their ups and downs, and when asked about that, Pantarotto shed some light on the subject.
“The tournament allowed us to face good competition early on in the season,” he said. “Leaving the tournament with a win is always a positive and builds morale, but the tournament wears you down. The girls play a lot of games in a short period of time. Fatigue sets in quickly and the girls can lose their legs. As a coach it’s important to leave the tournament injury free.”
Non-district play has been good to the Lionettes. While coaches approach the non-district season differently, Pantarotto perceives non-district play as a chance for the girls to grow as a team and develop their style of play.
“I’ve been assembling the team since day one in August, but the team continues to evolve
over time. My system allows the players to spread the ball around so everyone gets a touch,”
Panarotto said the Lionettes differentiate themselves from their opponents in several ways.
“The girls play well under pressure, and work well in small spaces,” he said. “We know how to capitalize on opportunities because we’ve scored in every game this season.”
On Friday, the Lionettes continue their season with a match at Lake Dallas. This is another chance for the girls to continue to stay undefeated and make their mark as a team to beat in district 10-5A.