Varsity girls soccer eager for 6A debut

The Lady Bengals soccer team is looking strong going into their first week of district play, despite an off-season affected by COVID-19 restrictions and the introduction of an all-new coaching staff.

After scrimmaging this past December, the team is eager to make waves during their district play which will begin Jan. 26, against McKinney Boyd. The ladies are more than ready for the challenge, according to head coach Drew McKinnie.

“This team is competitive,” Coach McKinnie said. “We have really seen the girls come together and from week one there has been a competitive nature brewing. This family will definitely be bringing some strong competition and hopefully turn some heads this season.”

Coach McKinnie is a newcomer to the program and joined the Lady Bengals over the summer after being head coach of the Cleburne High School’s boy’s soccer team. He coaches alongside JV coaches Dylan Burnett and Kathryn Staples. Although there has been a pandemic, the transition to an all-new staff has been smooth.

“Coaches have been very welcoming and the team has been looking forward to the upcoming season with the new staff,” junior and midfielder, Hannah Lawson said.

Although the team is excited about the upcoming season, the Lady Bengals have not forgotten to stay safe and remain vigilant in proper COVID-19 prevention protocols.

“As a team, we have to make sure we wear a mask at all times we’re around each other,” sophomore and goalkeeper Josie Marshall said. “We have to take care of each other.”

COVID hasn’t affected outside practices too much, but it did make an impact on the team’s strength and conditioning training sessions.

“We have had to become a little more creative in that area,” Coach McKinnie said. As newcomers to 6A soccer, the program will see some big match-ups causing the ladies to work continuously in order to get better. “We always have several goals for each season, but the big two are to stay safe and play a full season, as well as finish in the top four and gain the program’s first playoff berth,” Coach McKinnie said.

The team’s combined talent and grit will make their underdog debut interesting to watch. The Lady Bengals will see the return of forward/midfielder Jazmin Lee, junior, as well as Marshall who made her debut last year as a freshman on the varsity team. The program also has several new players including freshman Sophie Bradley, sophomore Halle Garcia and freshman Kate Olsby who have great potential in building a strong career in the program.

“The Lady Bengals have put in a lot of hard work in this offseason in preparation for the new challenges of a strong 6A district,” Coach McKinnie said. “We would love to see our #BengalNation come out and support us.”