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Girls soccer: Lady Dragons among top-ranked teams in nation

February 28, 2013
Carroll Athletic Booster Club

By Justin Thomas, jthomas@starlocalnews.com

Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 4:53 PM CST
For Southlake Carroll's girls soccer team, the goal remains the same each year.

Contend for a district title, make the playoffs and win state.

And with 15 players returning from last season's playoff roster, the Lady Dragons again appear to have the roster to make a run for Georgetown.

Carroll entered the season as one of five Metroplex teams ranked in the top 10 nationally according to the Elite Soccer Report. The Lady Dragons checked in at No. 4 and were joined by local powers Plano West (1), Marcus (3), Coppell (5) and Flower Mound (9). Carroll has since bumped up to No. 2 behind West.

"I think the strength of our team is the 15 seniors we have returning," said Matt Colvin, Carroll head coach. "They're a good group, they work hard and know what is expected of them. I think we're going to go as far as they take us."

The Lady Dragons also feature a deep roster of 29.

"We wanted to make sure the younger kids got a chance to train with the varsity so they are ready to go when it is their time," Colvin said. "But at the same time we have a lot of young kids who will start and play a lot. We're pretty balanced and have a lot of girls who can contribute at different spots."

That balance is evident in Carroll's returners, which includes a majority of its defense that surrendered just 10 goals last season and an offense that brings back 75 of 110 goals scored.

"We have a lot back but we're still trying to mix our youth with experience and see how everything meshes," Colvin said. "It's probably going to change a lot here and we'll have a better idea after the Georgetown Tournament. You always want to win, but this is the time to make sure we get everyone in the right spots."

Leading the returners is senior forward Sophie Groff, who claimed District 7-5A MVP honors last season. She will be joined at forward by freshman Grace Cory, senior MaKayla Braun (second team all-district) and sophomore Danielle Dennis.

"We're looking for some others to take a little pressure off of Sophie," Colvin said. "Grace really kind of reminds me a lot of Sophie when she was a freshman. She's powerful, but also sound technically and is good in the air. She's a solid athlete. And MaKayla brings a lot of leadership to the position."

Midfielders include seniors Julia Dyche (first team), Frankie Garrett (second team), Meghan Murphy (second team) and Alison Savage (Defensive MVP). Junior Payton Gruenewald and sophomore Nicole Sloan also fit into the rotation.

"They've been doing a fantastic job there and I think we have a very solid and deep rotation in the midfield," Colvin said.

Last year, Dyche scored 15 goals and had 25 assists en route to all-district honors.

Carroll's offense is further bolstered by a defensive line willing to push forward in the attack.

"It's a pro-oriented style where we want to get numbers forward," Colvin said.

Defenders include juniors Jordan Connors and Elise Landers, senior move-in Taylor Valentine, sophomore Kylie McBride and Savage.

"Jordan and Elise were on varsity last year but both missed some time with injuries," Colvin said. "And Taylor came in from Florida and has really been a pleasant surprise. She's versatile, strong and fast.

"I think the defense will help us generate a lot of offense if we can control the ball. We really take it as a slap in the face if our opponent puts together more than three consecutive passes. Our work rate increases when we lose the ball and we are actually able to relax a little bit when we have possession."

Last season, Carroll claimed a share of the district title with Keller Fossil Ridge. This year, the Lady Panthers return talent, and Colvin figures to see tough matches from the likes of Keller and Justin Northwest as well.

"I don't really have a great feel for the other teams, but we know they are talented," Colvin added.

Carroll kicked off its campaign last weekend when they co-hosted the National Elite Prep Tournament with Nolan, racking up wins over Bishop Lynch (3-0), Lubbock Monterey (3-0), Humble Kingwood (3-0) and Liberty of California (1-0). In all, 33 teams from Texas, California and Florida were in competition at the showcase.

"It was a good tournament for us and went very well," Colvin said.

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