Sherman’s Lielene Perez-Soto and the Lady Bearcats open the season when they host Naaman Forest on Thursday afternoon. Dan Dusek / For The Herald Democrat
By Jason Della Rosa, Herald Democrat
The experience level has flipped for the Sherman Lady Bearcats.
A year ago when the first soccer match of the season arrived, almost the entire roster was returning. Now in preparation for this season, more than half of the Lady Cats will be making their varsity debuts.
But that doesn’t mean Sherman won’t be ready to show some improvement as the Lady Bearcats open the schedule by hosting Garland Naaman Forest at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at Sherman High School.
“Our junior varsity the last couple of years has played together so the new faces on varsity have been together and been prepared for this,” SHS head coach Chance Hawkins said. “It’s about finding the spots and filling the holes we had with a big senior class. I have a decent idea of where we’re going to be. I’m excited about this group and what we can do.”
The Lady Bearcats took a step back last season, finishing with a 3-16-2 overall record and a 0-13-1 mark in 10-5A play for a last-place finish in a very talented district. Sherman was a win from seventh place in the standings, able to only earn a shootout loss to Princeton.
The program is still seeking a playoff spot for the first time since the last of back-to-back appearances in 2014 and its first winning record since 2017.
“We played much better than our results. It’s tough with five of the top 25 teams in the district,” Hawkins said. “I think we’re capable of making the playoffs. That’s our goal obviously. I think if we play like we can that is doable.”
There will be some changes to the lineup as the Lady Cats lose forward Brandy Moran, a first-team all-district selection, and honorable mention all-district selections Emma Ford and Kaley Wuestenfeld. Tyesha Gaines, Jade Burns, Isabel Reyna, Emma Morgan and Yajayra Reyna also graduated.
Riley Tillotson, a second-team all-district midfielder, is not playing her senior season. But there is still a good chunk of experience returning on the roster.
Up front, the Lady Bearcats turn to senior Roselyn Matamoros and junior Valeria Guerrero as well as freshman Mayla Matamoros.
“They’re going to make us go,” Hawkins said. “They’re going to be really good together.”
In the midfield, Sherman will rely on a move of senior Briany Mendoza from the starting keeper role along with a heavy junior presence.
Aleena Martinez and Abigail Delgado are back with Kassandra Cano, Yulemi Martinez, Naomy Valtierra, Haley Santiesteban and Yuzelmi Martinez being added to the mix along with senior McKinzey Pribble, and sophomore Jaydah Teel.
“Almost all of them were on JV together last year,” Hawkins said. “They’ve played together two years and know each other well.”
Junior Ella Llerenas returns to lead the defense while sophomores Peyton Cottingham and Lielene Perez-Soto and junior Ava Godfredson, who battled injuries last season, are also back.
“That’s where we’re most experienced — in the back end,” Hawkins said.
Freshman Adleigh Pesina and junior Katherine Sibrian could also provide meaningful minutes depending on how the lineup decisions are made.
Junior Emma Sturm takes over at goalkeeper with a move up from the junior varsity. She steps in between the pipes for Mendoza, who joins Cottingham in a backup role.
“It was about getting the best 11 girls on the field. (Mendoza) didn’t lose the job, not after how she played last year,” Hawkins said. “She does a lot of different things, has a really high soccer IQ that we need to move her around.”
In addition to a non-district match against Dallas Hillcrest, Sherman will play in the Princeton and Gainesville Tournaments before starting District 13-5A play on Jan. 24. The Lady Bearcats were placed in a district with Denison, Greenville, Lovejoy, McKinney North, Princeton and Melissa, which is moving up from 4A.
Lovejoy, Wylie East and Melissa were playoff teams last season.
Login to your account below
Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.