Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Plano West's dominance has it poised for run at third straight girls soccer title
PLANO — Reminiscing about last year’s state championship, Plano West senior Jalynn Barron called it a “once in a lifetime” moment.
On any other soccer team, that might be true. But the Plano West girls, who begin the season No. 1 in the Class 5A state rankings, are going for a third straight 5A title. For the state’s most successful UIL soccer program, once in a lifetime is more like once a year.
“Inevitably, we have the target on our backs,” said Plano West coach Allie Rogosheske. “But every year is a new team, and we graduated 13 seniors.”
That group of seniors included the District 10-5A MVP and six all-district players. But as usual, another wave of talent is ready to take over. Plano West didn’t play a varsity match until 2000, but it has now won six state titles.
Last year’s team finished 28-0-2, and the Wolves have an unbeaten streak of 38 matches.
“We’re just lucky enough to have a lot of really great players,” Barron said.
Among them are returning all-district selections Barron and forward Tori Gates. Other top players returning are senior midfielder Rachel Grout, junior midfielder/forward Ashley Smith and junior midfielder Kiley Burns. Midfielder Morgan Murphy, a key player for Plano West as a sophomore, focused on select soccer last year, and is back as a senior.
“It’s different this year, but kind of in a good way because we have a lot of new, younger people coming in,” said Gates, who scored a goal in last year’s 4-1 win over Southlake Carroll in the title game. “We have to get in sync with all the new players.”
And a new coach, as well. Rogosheske was an assistant for two years to Carley Phillips, who got married after last season and moved to South Carolina. But Rogosheske, who played collegiately for Wisconsin, will keep the program rolling. At Plano West, where all the players compete for club teams, “Coach Rogo” knows how high school soccer fits into the mix.
“Club is just so intense, and the girls are playing year-round with that intensity,” Rogosheske said. “High school is a special thing — to play with your friends and for your school.”
“I think all of us feel like the high school team is our family, and the club is more serious,” Barron said. “High school is about experiences and building a family, and it’s a lot of fun coming out here.”
Winning a third straight title would certainly be fun, and if Plano West can do it, the Wolves will match their three straight from 2000 to 2002. But Carroll, which is No. 2 in the 5A rankings, and a lot of other tough teams are working to take down the champs.
Plano West doesn’t seem to mind being the target — again.
“It definitely motivates us to play harder and stronger,” senior forward Londyn Beal said. “So, I mean, keep ’em coming.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.