McKinney Boyd’s girls soccer team, ranked No. 1 in the ESPNHS Fab 50, has already begun its 2012 campaign after winning its second state title in four years last season.
With the players who return, Boyd remains a frontrunner to bring another state title back to North Texas.
The biggest change for Boyd this year is on the sidelines.
After one of North Texas’ most successful coaches, Jimmie Langford, resigned from Boyd to take a job coaching a boys team in Colorado, the reigns of the defending champs were given to Michele Estes.
The transition might not be as difficult as it sounds. Estes simply moved into the head coaching role after spending years as an assistant coach under Langford.
Not much strategically has changed in Boyd’s play under Estes, but it’s intangibles that the new coach emphasizes to her players.
“She’s brought a more competitive atmosphere,” senior striker Amanda Elertson said. “She’s trying to ignite the team more. We’ve lost players from last year, so we need to find a chemistry this year that will make us as successful as last year.”
Before practices and games, Boyd breaks out to the cheer “We are one” to put teamwork and team chemistry in the front of the players' minds as they move through the season, preparing for another playoff run.
It’s that personal connection with the team that Elerton values in Estes, which in turn is what Estes wants to spread amongst the team.
“She knows your personality,” Elertson said. “If you’re struggling, she knows what’s best to help pick you up and get you going, and I think it’s really good to have a coach that knows you.”
Elertson is one of many Boyd players who participates year-round by playing club soccer outside of the school team. Estes believes this creates a business-like attitude that prevents true chemistry from forming. Estes hopes she can create a more personal connection amongst the Boyd team, which is something the players rarely have the opportunity to form on club squads.
Boyd will have another tough road to state again this year with five North Texas girls teams ranked in the top 10 in the Fab 50 as of Jan. 8.
The 5A state runner-up, Colleyville Heritage, ranks No. 3 in the nation in the Week 6 poll, behind Coppell. Ursuline Academy ranks No. 4 as it looks to continue its dynasty in the state’s private school ranks.
North Texas has the chance to make a strong push on the boys side, as well, with the efforts being led by defending 5A state champion Southlake Carroll. Carroll entered the 2012 season with a 31-match undefeated streak that is the second longest active streak in the nation.
The surprise team to watch for is Hebron, which is ranked No. 12 in the nation as of Jan. 8, just one spot ahead of district rival Allen at No. 13.
The perennial powerhouse, Frisco Wakeland, comes in at No. 14, looking to sandwich a girls state title last season with a boys title in 2010.
But 2012 has the chance to be the season of Boyd in soccer, with a boys team that ranks No. 9 in the Fab 50, competing with the girls side for the higher national ranking when all is said and done.
The girls, of course, are winning the battle so far, and have the will and drive to repeat last season’s success.
“Everone on this team is competitive and everyone wants to win,” Elertson said. “They have that drive and desire, and I think we can be as successful.”