Lady War Eagle Soccer Playing Better Than Ever

This just in, Oak Ridge high school girls soccer coach, James Collins loves to coach. He has been coaching the Lady War Eagles for four years now. Before that, he was the Friendswood JV coach for 13 years. The last three of those years he drove from the Woodlands to Friendswood to work every day because he wasn’t quite ready to change schools.  Before that time, he was actually offered the College Park girls head coaching job but turned it down.

Coach Collins talks about his first year here at Oak Ridge, “When I first got here, the academy had just left and we barely had enough kids for a JV team. Somehow,  thanks to hard work by the kids we managed to get into the playoffs the first two years. The first year we lost to Klein 1-0 and the second we lost to Klein Oak 3-2 in OT. That one still hurts because we had a two goal lead with 15 minutes left and we couldn’t close it out. Last year, we had a bad year all around and missed the playoffs by one game. Our soccer was not always pretty but we did what we could to be competitive.”

Currently, the team is 7-3-3 and playing better than ever. Collins said that switching formations has really helped the team. He indicated his team has five freshmen in Claire Schuman, Kamri Brown, Sydney Vincent, Kate Smith, and Darienne Edens that have made a big difference this season.

Collins on the team’s chemistry, “Putting the frosh together with great senior leadership from Laurin Engle, Lexi Foster, TK Keith, Tania Sanchez, and Jade Sorensen has really made for a good mix of youth and experience for us. Jade, our two time all county forward used to have to carry the load offensively so it was easy for teams to mark her out of the game. Now we have the offensive workload spread out and have eight players that have scored this year.”

Last year, Sorensen hit pay-dirt 20 times and the entire rest of the team had four total. It seems that Coach Collins’ new system and influx of talent has made things better for Jade as well as the whole team.

Oak Ridge now plays a 3-4-3 and Gabby Esqiuvel, Ashley Gripka, and Lexie Foster man the back line of the zone. Freshman Sydney Vincent is doing a great  job controlling the defensive middle for the Lady War Eagles.

Collins explains how it all works, “We try to control the middle with our four mids, possess the ball and then play directly to our forwards who then play back to the mids while we look for mismatches in terms of space or marking up top. We have yet to completely figure out the proper movement up top with three forwards, but we are getting it up there and possessing it up top a lot and this has taken a lot of pressure off our defense.”

To give you an idea of how far this band of Lady War Eagles have come, they went to the Brenham tourney and finished 2-1-1 and were 7th out of 16. This is impressive when you consider they went to same tournament previously and finished dead last…..16 out of 16. This team is definitely on the way up.

In being without six key players, the team played in the New Caney tournament and finished 2-0-1 but could not advance because of the tie and losing a shootout. When you think about it, the team was without six players and they didn’t lose a game.

They played two non-tournament games and blanked Spring 1-0 and Cy Falls 2-0. Last weekend, Oak Ridge traveled to Longview and went 1-2-1.

The team’s only drawback is the fact that they can not stay healthy as they have yet to put their complete starting 11 out on the field.

The ladies are considered a small team but when you watch them play you will see size is not an issue to these girls. In a previous contest, a referee actually thought the War Eagles were a JV team. This should fuel their fire even more in their pursuit of post-season play.

Coach Collins doesn’t think size is a big deal on the soccer field, ” We do play hard and smart and I expect great things once district starts. I have a lot of talent at the 8th grade level as well. (Collins also coaches the York girls team). I know we have a bright future and I am excited about the whole program.”

Oak Ridge should surprise a lot of people this year because they are under the radar. They will be a lot better than people think.

In goal, they have senior Laurin Engle and sophomore Katherine Tesno, who have been great in the nets. “Kat” may be one of the best keepers in the region.

In the back, you have junior Gripka , senior Foster , junior Esquivel  and frosh Edens who have been excellent.

Junior Nadine Berns, Junior Sheridan, frosh Sidney Vincent  and soph Lauren Gelormini have really worked hard in the middle.

Senior Jade Sorensen, senior Taylor Keith, frosh Kamri Brown and frosh Kate Smith have been dangerous up top. Senior Tania Sanchez has played everywhere but Keeper and is the team’s Utility player, par excellence! To date, the team has scored 14 goals and given up 10.

Coach Collins’ outlook on the upcoming district season is infectious, “We can play with anyone. I promise you this…we are going to surprise some of these powerhouses in district this year. As for us, we will not be surprised because the kids now expect to play tough and win every night. After we make halftime adjustments, you may hear the kids laughing and doing things to stay loose before we go back on the field. I make it clear to the players this is supposed to be fun and as long as you leave everything out on the feild and give great effort, you should never be down on yourself if we lose. We have lost only three times this year and every time, they have walked off smiling because they always give all they have. It really is a great group of kids and I can not tell you how proud I am to coach them.”

Collins continued, “You just watch! Some powerhouse is going to come on this field and take us for granted and they will exit with frowns on their faces.”

Lady War Eagle soccer will host College Park Tuesday night for their first district tilt. Come on out and support this successful organization!

Comments to Doug Sarant at doug@oakridgenow.com

Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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