Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: When it comes to the state tournament, Dallas-area soccer teams dominate
As the Highland Park girls soccer team was cruising through district play, outscoring opponents 29-1, the defending state champion could’ve lost some focus. But coach Stewart Brown didn’t worry about it.
“Complacency is something that I never have to worry about,” Brown said. “We’re a very competitive program just to make the varsity.”
That’s true at dozens of schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which is why two more local girls teams are expected to win UIL state titles Saturday in Georgetown. It could be repeat titles for Highland Park (4A) and Plano West (5A) or wins by the two other local semifinalists: Denton Guyer and Southlake Carroll.
A sweep of the 4A and 5A girls titles might sound presumptuous, but that’s what local teams have done five of the last six years.
“We just have some great soccer players around here,” said Plano West coach Carley Phillips. “They’re just soccer junkies. This is their lives.”
They’ve been living well at the state tournament since 2007, with wins in 11 of the 12 UIL title games. The only title that got away was the 2010 5A championship, in which Conroe The Woodlands beat McKinney Boyd, 3-2, on a penalty kick in the final three minutes.
In the last six years, local girls teams are 26-6 at state, and four of those six losses were against fellow locals. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is large, but Texas is huge, and to be dominant for so long is pretty amazing.
Or maybe it’s just logical.
“I grew up here and I played here,” said Phillips, who was a star midfielder at Plano West and then played for SMU. “The Houston area always had one or two great teams and Austin had one or two, but there are more here. That’s what it seemed like to me.”
The strength of the club system — the “select” teams — has a lot to do with that. Other regions of the state also have those programs, but they can’t match the number of elite teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. That’s true with the boys, as well, who have won six of the last 12 UIL titles.
“The amount of sophistication that you have in soccer in this area is a big ingredient,” said Coppell boys coach Chad Rakestraw, whose team is a 5A semifinalist.
The talent pool is so deep that Coppell, despite having five boys who chose to play for academy teams instead of high school this season, is two wins from a state title. The Mesquite Poteet boys, state finalists in 2009, are also two wins from a title that could be part of a local boys-and-girls soccer sweep at state.
No metro region has done it since the UIL added 4A for soccer in 1999. Teams from Dallas-Fort Worth have won three of the four titles several times, but with so much soccer talent throughout the state, a sweep is extremely difficult.
Even for local teams, who seem to be a step ahead most years.
“I think the club scene is pretty strong,” Poteet coach Colby Peek said. “But I don’t really know what it is about the metroplex. The Dallas area just produces good teams in all sports.”
Right now, none are more dominant than in soccer.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.