THE BAR’S BEEN LIFTED FOR HOUSTON MEMORIAL’S GIRLS SOCCER PROGRAM AFTER THE MUSTANGS ROLLED TO THE CLASS 6A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP LAST SEASON VIA A 28-0-1 CAMPAIGN.
But as they look to defend their title in 2019, the Mustangs will do so with a new batch of talent, returning just four starters after graduating nine seniors.
Not only that, but two of last season’s standouts in forward Grace Collins (TCU-signee), the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Girls Soccer Player of the Year in 2018, and midfielder Maddie Dichiara (Oklahoma signee) elected not to play their senior seasons.
“It’s been a phenomenal situation,” Memorial coach Lindley Amarantos said. “Now we feel like we have a giant target on our back, and it’s a different team this year. A new set of girls.”
The Mustangs will lean on junior midfielder and University of Texas verbal commit Kelsey Hranicky, who has taken on more of a leadership role and boasts terrific technical skills that makes her hard to defend. Memorial will also look to junior midfielder Blakeley Buckingham, a first-year starter who had already notched two goals through the first three games this season.
Sophomore defender Juliann Kidd, whose vision and speed were vital as a freshman starter last year and junior defender Reagan Goodwine, a three-year starter, steady the backline.
Sophomore Maddie Dukes will start between the posts after being a backup to Bella Killgore, now at Rice, last season.
“Even though our starters are kind of young, they do have plenty of experience,” Amarantos said. “Even though they may be sophomores and juniors, they were a part of that huge run last year. That knowledge background is big.”
Amarantos said the team will play a more possession- based style of soccer opposed to the direct play it employed last season.
The Mustangs are virtually a blank-slate at top, the coach said, though Hranicky, Buckingham, senior forwards Chandler Maloney and Emily Ridge, and varsity newcomers Caroline Prewett and Faith Askew have shown promise as scoring threats.
“The work ethic that was compiled last year has set the tone for this year,” Amarantos said. “And the expectations ... they’re not going to settle for anyone not giving their all.
“This is a team that will continually grow throughout the season.”
This article appears in the January 2019 Issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations today!