Lady Eagles host showcase: Look to parlay momentum built during opening weekend
Competing in the top varsity girls soccer tournament in the country is not an easy task for any team, let alone one that graduated 19 seniors from the season prior and brought seven freshmen up to the roster.
Yet that is precisely what Allen endeavored to do over the weekend at the 2013 National Elite Prep Showcase in Fort Worth.
Early results were promising with the Lady Eagles starting the season at 3-1.
"We had sort of struggled in our scrimmages (going 0-2-1), but we knew it was going to take a while to build chemistry and this tournament was definitely encouraging," said Kevin Albury, Allen head coach. "We still had girls asking, 'what's her name again' when they went onto the field and for a lot of these girls it is their first time on varsity, so it can take a while to get your varsity legs and get your confidence going."
Allen's lone loss came in last Thursday's opener against Hebron.
The score was tied at the half, 1-1, as Allen got a goal from junior Chloe Fowler, but the Lady Hawks scored three times in the first seven minutes of the second half to break the match open and record an eventual 5-1 victory.
"We had a really bad 10 minutes and that can mean game over against a team as good as Hebron," Albury said. "But outside of those 10 minutes, I think we held up well against a veteran team."
A new day brought a new outcome.
Two of them actually as Allen defeated Amarillo, 2-0, and Austin St. Stephens, 3-0, on Friday.
The Lady Eagles varied formations, running a 4-4-2 in the first half against Amarillo and a 3-5-2 in the second half as well as for the entirety of the St. Stephen's match.
"I know the girls are used to playing one formation in club," Albury said, "but we'll be using three or four depending on who we have in and who we're playing because we have to prepare for a district where all five of our opponents play different styles."
Youngsters provided the offense against Amarillo with goals from freshmen Kaylee Davis and Michaela Rouse. Those names popped up again in the second game of the day as Davis scored 15 minutes in off a through ball from sophomore Emily Niece and Rouse sealed the 3-0 win with a rocket from 30 yards out. Wedged in between was a goal from sophomore Morgan Cherry early in the second half.
Allen won its third straight game Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Ursuline, which has ruled the TAPPS girls soccer scene the past two decades.
"Ursuline is a very good team and I know they might have been missing a few girls, but I think that was the best we had played," Albury said. "Our depth really helped there because we were able to sub in groups every 20 minutes or so. That's big in a tournament because you really can't just play the same 11 girls."
The Lady Eagles continued to bring the variety with senior Allie Johnson adding her name to the scoring ledger alongside another goal from Fowler. The defense was once again up to the test, posting their third straight shutout as Allen improved to 3-1.
However, it isn't necessarily the record, but the progress that has the team excited.
"We are playing in a lot of tournaments and have a lot of games lined up because we're gradually trying to build to the start of district in February," Albury said.
That quest continues Thursday when hosting the Allen Girls Soccer Showcase.
Albury is familiar with showcases as he established one during his last season as the head coach at Flower Mound Marcus. The Lady Marauders and Plano West, ranked No. 3 and No. 1, respectively, in the latest national poll by Elite Soccer Report will be part of the 10-team, three-day event.
Allen plays Garland Lakeview Centennial at 10 a.m. Thursday from Curtis Middle School, Coppell at 2 p.m. Friday from Eagle Stadium and Lake Highlands at 9 a.m. Saturday from Ford Middle School.
"We'll have five quality games each day and will play at three different sites," Albury said. "It's a good chance for teams to play opponents they might not normally see."