Written by Matt Wixon
A safe prediction: A Dallas-area girls soccer team will win a state title
My March Madness NCAA bracket is toast, as always. My Arizona Wildcats are still involved, but I didn't even pick them to get past New Mexico in the second round, and New Mexico didn't even get to the second round, so …
Well, my predictions were pretty bad.
But here's a fairly easy prediction as the soccer playoffs begin:
A local girls team is going to win a state title. In fact, you can predict that girls teams will sweep the 4A and 5A titles and still be standing on strong branches.
Girls teams from the Dallas-Fort Worth area have won 11 of the last 12 University Interscholastic League girls soccer titles. Plano West (Class 5A) and Highland Park (4A) completed another girls sweep last year.
Dating back to 2007, the only girls team outside North Texas to win a state title is The Woodlands, which beat McKinney Boyd in the 5A final three years ago.
With the boys, however …
Last year, the U.S. Soccer Federation began forbidding boys players on its academy teams from playing high school soccer. Four of the state's nine academy clubs are in Dallas-Fort Worth, taking about 100 of the top local players off high school rosters.
It's probably no coincidence that last year there was no local boys champion for the first time in six years. And for the first time in 10 years, no local boys team even played in a championship game.
Hopefully the local boys will fare better this season. But the academy rule seems to tilt the balance of power away from the north, and there are lots of strong boys teams around the state ready to step up.