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Clockwise (starting top left), The Woodlands’ Rylie Graves and Janey Kauppinen, Grand Oaks’ Sophia Dean, Conroe’s Jenna Labay and College Park’s Grace Courtney.
The Woodlands senior Riley Graves (27) and teammate Janey Kauppinen (22) battle Tomball Memorial junior defender Morgan Lopez during their first round matchup in the Lady Highlander Invitational: The War in the Woods played at the Gosling Sports Complex in The Woodlands on Jan. 6, 2022.
Grand Oaks goalie Sophia Dean (98) makes a stop against The Woodlands’ Katherine Williams (3) in the second period of a District 13-6A high school soccer match at Woodforest Bank Stadium, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Shenandoah.
College Park’s Grace Courtney (23) controls the ball in front of Klein’s Samantha Stephens (16) in the second period of a Region II-6A area high school playoff soccer match, Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Spring.
Conroe’s Jenna Labay (24) controls the ball in the first period of a soccer match during the Lady Highlander Invitational, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in The Woodlands.
Here is a team-by-team preview of the Class 6A girls soccer teams in Montgomery County.
All teams will play in District 13-6A.
Information was requested from all the head coaches.
The Woodlands is back in 2023 and hungrier than ever.
With a loaded senior roster, Frankie Whitlock, in her second year since becoming head coach, has a team looking to move from last year’s early playoff exit.
The journey begins Thursday as the team hosts their annual Lady Highlander Invitational.
“Sixteen seniors lead this program and a lot of them have tallied a lot of varsity minutes in their high school career,” Whitlock stated. “It will be a fun year!”
Whitlock said team maturity is a big strength.
“Great balance all over the field,” she said. “Culture and tradition are key to this program. Leaving their legacy.”
Seniors Janey Kauppinen and Rylie Graves head up the returning players. Kauppinen was the District 13-6A Defensive MVP last year.
Seniors Tasha Budisa, Caroline White, Brooke Manley, AB Fuentes and Emma Cahill are back for the team that went 16-4-3 overall last year and won the district title with a 9-0-1 mark.
Also returning are juniors Gillian Wilson, Savannah Knight and Freya Hayes.
The Woodlands lost both the Montgomery County Offensive MVP in Courtney Koehler (Michigan State) and Defensive MVP in Ellen Persson (Illinois)
“The Woodlands will always graduate key players every year,” Whitlock said. “They have left their legacy and we always miss them when they turn in that senior uniform. It is difficult every spring.”
After reaching the state tournament in 2021, The Woodlands was eliminated in the area round last year.
“Every game has a goal to attain,” Whitlock said. “Whether it be discipline in the formation, being patient in the attack, getting everyone involved or refocus on transition during the match.”
After one of its best seasons in the program’s short history, the Grand Oaks Grizzlies have reasons to believe again this spring.
Off a 15-4-1 record and a second place finish in District 13-6A last year, head coach Amy Simpson returns nine of 11 starters, including one of the top goalkeepers in the county and the Newcomer of the Year from last year.
“The energy of this team has never been better,” Simpson stated. “ I have never been around a group that is so fun to be around, day in and day out. They care about each other on and off the field and the positive vibe that radiates from this team is like nothing this program has ever seen.”
Sophia Dean, a Stephen F. Austin signee, returns at goalkeeper after winning the district superlative for that position. She made 267 saves with a 1.00 goals against average.
Ashlynn Sharp, a sophomore forward, was first team All-District and Montgomery County Newcomer of the Year after netting 11 goals and six assists.
Senior midfielder Lauren Moylan had 12 goals and six assists while junior midfielder Jorja Bragg returns after scoring six goals last year.
Also back are junior Ashley Aguilera (midfield), senior Natalie Bruschke (forward), and defenders Isabella Piede (junior), Nicoline Veasey (senior) and Maddie Bruegger (senior).
Reese Rupe, a Texas A&M signee, graduated early and defender Giselle Francis graduated last spring.
Simpson stated the team’s ultimate goal is get past the second round of the playoffs for the first time. The Grizzlies lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Cypress Woods last year in the area round.
“They are just so fun to be around, and everyone works hard every day and encourages each other to get better by bringing such positive energy,” Simpson said.
Grand Oaks began the season Monday with a nondistrict game against Klein.
The College Park Cavaliers made it to the area round for the second straight season last spring.
But head coach Meredith Cook’s squad will have to rebuild to get back to that point this season.
“This year’s team is young and hungry,” Cook said. “They are working hard to come together as a team, and their drive will make them tough competitor’s this season.”
Just two starters return in senior midfielder Grace Courtney and junior midfielder Meghan Birney.
Key contributors gone from last year include Ashley Washburn (Louisiana-Monroe) and Carli Rabson. The two combined on 48 goals with Rabson earning District 13-6A Offensive MVP with 25 goals and 15 assists.
“As a young team, there will be a great deal of growing as players and as a team,” Cook said. “They will need to work through adversity, and learn from mistakes as they progress through the season.”
College Park fell to Klein in the area round last year to conclude the year 13-10.
“This year the team is looking to come together,” Cook said. “We want to return to the playoffs, but in a district with many talented teams and competitors, we know it will take a great deal of work all season.”
The Conroe Tigers has some pieces in place this year.
Silvina Salgado returns as the leading striker for the offense from the past two years. Litzy Garcia and Evette Fernandez also return to help the offense while the defense is led by Jenna Labay and Skylar Grutkowski.
“We started last season strong with the team doing well in preseason and tournaments, but we struggled with shootouts during district,” Conroe coach Melianie Stinson said. “The team continued to improve every game, and I can’t wait to see what they do this year.”
Conroe was 2-9-2 overall and 1-8-1 in District 13-6A.
“With our returning juniors and seniors, we have a great deal of experience on the field,” Stinson said. “They are in an amazing position to lead the team to wins.”
Conroe is hoping to trend forward.
“Our goal this year is to continue to grow and improve as a team, and to create an environment that will allow each player to contribute and show their skills while supporting their teammates to create a winning culture,” Stinson said.
Willis made it back to the playoffs last season under first year coach Alyssa Maynard.
The Wildkats hadn’t been there since 2017, so to make it in their second year in Class 6A was a big deal.
Willis was 7-11-2 last year and 2-6-2 in District 13-6A
Oak Ridge has a new head coach this season in Amanda Farmer.
Last Year, Oak Ridge 5-10-4 overall and 1-7-2 in District 13-6A.
The War Eagles have made the playoffs seven times in the past decade.
Longtime Caney Creek coach Gretchen Kloes and the Panthers make the move to Class 6A starting this season.
In its final season in Class 5A, the Panthers went 4-12-2 overall and 4-9-1 in district play, which placed them in fifth.
Caney Creek is looking for a playoff spot for the first time since 2018.
New Caney moves to Class 6A as well.
The Eagles were 3-16-1 last year and 1-12 in their final season in Class 5A.
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Montgomery County Class 6A girls soccer preview – Houston Chronicle
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