The Rouse girls soccer team felt their strongest bond of the season after their win against Cedar Park in the first round of district play.
The Lady Raiders capped off a dominant and undefeated district season with the first district title in school history and will travel to Giddings to face off with Willis in the first round of the playoffs Friday at 5 p.m.
“That was a big game for the team and it brought them closer together because they knew they could accomplish great things,” Rouse head coach Katie Kistner said. “Cedar Park is a great team and that game could’ve gone either way.”
Vandegrift also won a district title and will be headed to Texas Lutheran to face off with San Antonio Lee Friday at 6 p.m. Cedar Park, which only lost to Rouse in district play, takes on Tomball Memorial.
Haley Hoppe led the team with 27 goals and five assists in the regular season, while sophomore Alivia Sparschu had nine goals and two assists and Charlotte Wilson chipped in with eight goals and a team-best eight assists.
The Lady Raiders scored 60 goals during the regular season and gave up just six goals. Cedar Park had a slightly better defense as the Lady Timberwolves allowed just four goals in 14 games this year.
The only other time the Lady Raiders made it to the regional tournament was three seasons ago when the current group of seniors were freshmen.
Only a handful of them were on the squad then, but that doesn’t take away from the valuable experience.
“They’re just excited to try and get back,” Kistner said. “They realize it’s going to be a lot of hard work. The seniors, of all the girls on the team, are trying to keep everyone focused because they realize what’s at stake.”
Rouse ended the season on a hot streak, outscoring its final six opponents 23-0. Hoppe scored 10 goals in the final five games, including a four-goal performance in the regular season finale. But that hot streak ended with a 5-0 loss to Hendrickson in a playoff warmup Monday night.
Kistner said going up against a 6A opponent like Hendrickson was meant to show where the weak spots were and give them confidence and understanding of their system against a relatively unknown team.
The Lady Raiders have used the hashtag #GoldBallChasin to signify the trophies they get for reaching milestones throughout the year. Rouse will already raise a banner in the gym along with its gold ball for wining the district, but they don’t want that to be the only one.
“We have one, but we’re trying to get more,” Kistner said. “We know there’s still work to do and it’s going to be a challenge.”