Composed and Confident: Wakeland Soccer Strives to Build on Legacy

Composed and Confident: Wakeland Soccer Strives to Build on Legacy

Looking to win both girls and boys state titles in the same year for a third time, Wakeland soccer is now one win away from being champions.

On Thursday, April 11, both Wakeland teams earned their spots in the finals, with the girls winning 4-2 against Leander Rouse High School in a penalty shootout and the boys winning 2-0 against Leander Glenn High School in regular time. For the girls, senior defender Ava Yocum and junior goalkeeper Claire Manis were crucial in penalty kicks, leading the way. For the boys, senior defender Johnathan Lopp and junior forward Jack Minsky each scored a goal.

“The difference maker was our composure and legacy with being here before. The other team had their first experience at state and that showed,” junior midfielder Troy Donaghy said. “We also had more depth, as their team was made up of two [great] players…which we shut down.”

In the girls game, both teams had good chances to score but could not finish, resulting in a penalty shootout.

“I was confident we were going to win in penalty kicks because we have been practicing them since the beginning of playoffs,” senior midfielder LG Moncrief said. “Every person chosen to take them was confident and well prepared.”

After two great saves from Manis, the Wolverines were up 3-1 in penalties, with Leander Rouse looking to put one past her. As Leander Rouse took their next shot, they startled Manis and found the far corner of the goal. Now 3-2, Yocum lined up to take the final kick, with her fellow teammates and students anxiously awaiting. As she struck the ball, she found the top corner of the goal, where the goalkeeper had little chance of reaching it, giving her team the opportunity to play for a state championship.

“It felt great to watch Ava score, as we had won the game without even reaching our fifth penalty-kick taker,” Moncrief said. “It showed we had deserved to win that game and get a spot in the finals.”

In the boys game, Wakeland had several great scoring opportunities until they found the back of the net with about seven minutes and 30 seconds remaining in the first half off of sophomore winger Cameron Warner’s corner. After lining up to take the corner, Warner beautifully delivered the ball to Lopp in the middle who then headed it into the goal.

“It felt amazing,” Lopp said. “I’ve been working for it all season, and it finally cashed in.”

In the second half, the boys clinched the win after another great set piece. With about 29 minutes left of the game, Minsky had a one-touch finish into the left corner of the goal after junior winger Max Parra’s corner.

“Minsky’s goal let us calm down and be able to play more defensively to shut the team down,” Donaghy said. “We went into time-wasting mode through just booting the ball up everytime we got it, as even if they scored one goal, we would have the lead.”

In the state finals, both teams will play at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown on Saturday, April 13, with the girls playing at 11 a.m. against Colleyville Heritage High School and the boys playing at 1:30 p.m. against Midlothian High School.

“Our mentality will be the most important thing to win the state final, as I am confident our physical ability will help us win alone,” Moncrief said. “We need to come out strong and confident and play like we know we can.”

“Working hard, pressing hard, and playing as a team [will be important to winning it all],” Lopp said.

Macy Esquenazi
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