Written by Matt Wixon
Wylie East's soccer team becoming a beacon of positivity in light of recent tragedy
GEORGETOWN — When the opening whistle blew Friday morning for Wylie East’s Class 4A state semifinal, the sky above Birkelbach Field was a solid gray. Twenty minutes later, Wylie East had scored three goals and the clouds were clearing quickly.
It felt perfectly appropriate as Wylie East rolled over Friendswood, 4-0, to earn a spot in Saturday’s championship game against Austin Vandergrift. Weeks after a student’s shocking death put Wylie East in a negative focus, the girls soccer team is helping shine a light on the positive.
“Yes, there have been some tough times,” Wylie East coach Kody Christensen said. “However, there’s more positive that comes out of our school than negative.”
One Wylie East positive Friday was a large, spirited group of fans who followed their team to its first state appearance. They had a lot to cheer about, as Wylie East (24-1-1) overwhelmed Friendswood (22-5-3).
Wylie East had a shot on goal in the opening minute and scored the winning goal less than seven minutes into the match. Taking a pass from forward Asia Revely, midfielder Valiree Morris drilled a shot from 10 yards in front that hit the bottom of the crossbar and deflected into the net.
In the 16th minute, midfielder Molli Pampolina sent a corner kick toward midfielder Addison McCain, who headed it into the net for a 2-0 lead. Four minutes later, forward Brittany Jones assisted Revely to make it 3-0, and it looked like Wylie East might threaten the record for goals in a state match (seven).
Forward Morgan Cave scored one more before halftime, and then Wylie East shifted into cruise control. The Lady Raiders substituted heavily as they waited for the clock to run out on their 11th straight win.
“We were able to get a lot of subs on the field and rest a lot of people,” Christensen said. “Everyone on my roster was able to touch the grass.”
That also seemed appropriate, considering the way the entire school has rallied around its fantastic soccer team. The Lady Raiders’ deep playoff run has helped the community heal after last month’s death of Ivan Mejia, who police allege was killed by two of his fellow students.
“The kids are great at Wylie East. They band together and support each other no matter what,” Christensen said. “Our school is so spirited. You can’t break us.”
“This,” the coach said as students and teammates celebrated nearby, “is what Wylie East is.”
What the soccer team will be, with one more victory, is unforgettable. Actually, it already is.
“We weren’t expecting this many people to show up,” said Jones, smiling broadly as Wylie East fans waited to greet the players. “They’re already so proud of us, but if we win a state championship, they will put us on a pedestal.”