Girls soccer: La Porte eyeing more success
La Porte returned to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive time under eighth-year coach Brandi German last season, using a lopsided win over Pasadena mid-district to spark a strong finish.
It went on to beat Beaumont West Brook in the bi-district playoffs for just the second postseason victory under German — one that should continue to pay dividends for La Porte this season.
"Last year was a really good year," German said. "I had eight seniors and they pulled together as a team.
"I had good leadership on the team last year."
The Lady Bulldogs defeated West Brook 2-1 before losing 1-0 to Clear Brook in the area round. Now they're in West Brook's district, District 21-5A, where the Lady Bruins are the top competition.
And that bodes well for La Porte's goal this season - winning a district championship.
"Our goal is to win district," German said. "Our main competition is West Brook."
Midfielders Rebecca Robson and Devan Garcia and defender Hannah Smith, who were starters, and one other player have graduated, leaving a team they helped lead to a 17-8-2 overall record.
"Those four players were key people," German said. "They were the leadership on our team, which made our team the way it was.
"They kept everybody together."
The Lady Bulldogs also lost twin forwards Kristy Tatom and Misty Tatom, who were first and third, respectively, in goal-scoring last season. They didn't return to the team for their senior seasons.
But nine players are back, including eight starters. Senior center mid Tiffany Brogan returns, along with junior outside mid Kristen Acosta and defenders Lynnsey Jackson, Nikki Rhea and Kaylie Hart.
Brogan was a key starter last season but German expects her to step up her game and do even more this season.
"Brogan is very aggressive and very passionate," German said. "She hates being beat so she's going to go back and fight to get the ball back from you."
Acosta is entering her third season as a starter. She's moving from the left side to replace Robson on the right. German said Acosta's game is as strong as it's ever been as she continues to improve.
"She's got good speed and she's aggressive on the ball and off the ball," German said. "She reads the game well. She's a strong leader on the team."
German called Hart, who's just a sophomore, an "unbelievable player." She leads the trio of returning starters on defense, which is expected to be the source of the Lady Bulldogs' strength in 2011.
The back line will be bolstered by one of two freshmen expected to start, Sydnie Shope, who German said already is solid. The other key freshman, Stephanie Castillo, will join Brogan at center mid.
The Tatom twins' spots will be filled by two sophomore forwards: Sarah Smith and Courtney Beacham, who both shoot well and are strong on the ball.
"They stood out on the JV team," German said.
La Porte's already well into the long soccer practice season, which started Nov. 29, giving it plenty of time to work out the kinks and find new leadership.
"Our focus was to get everybody on the same level defensively, and then to know as an offense that we've got to shoot first time," German said. "We can't try to dribble it into the back of the net."
German said she tentatively knows where everybody will play, but that could change after the team's first scrimmage against Kingwood Park on Jan. 7 at La Porte.
The Lady Bulldogs open the season with Nederland at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13, at Summer Creek in the Humble ISD Invitational.
"We're ready for some games," German said.
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