If the beginning of the season is any indication, this year might be a little different for the Leander girls’ soccer team.
With a new coach and a new attitude, the Lady Lions are off to a flying start, having won all five games they’ve played. Leander hasn’t made the playoffs in more than seven years and has already eclipsed its win total from last season.
“I came into this job knowing that they have the challenges of not having much success in the previous years,” head coach Alexia Dyar said. “My main focus was just bringing a positive mindset to the team. It’s kind of hard when you’ve had new coaches every year for the last couple years.”
Dyar attended Pflugerville before playing college soccer at Arkansas State University, where she made the national tournament and finished as one of the best goalkeepers in school history.
She began her high school coaching at Marshall High School in East Texas before being named Bastrop girls soccer head coach in 2014, guiding the Lady Bears to the playoffs in two of her three seasons at the helm.
Dyar plays soccer with Vista Ridge coach Kristin Stone and Vandegrift coach Jen Hardy, so she knew Leander had talent. It was just a matter of unlocking it.
“I just want to establish an overall program,” she said. “I know they have the talent, there was just something that was missing that wasn’t allowing their record to show what they were capable of doing.”
The stats to start this season is nothing short of impressive. Through five games, Leander has scored 28 goals and given up just one, highlighted by a 9-0 drubbing of Benbrook and a 3-0 win against Cedar Ridge in Round Rock last weekend.
“They’ve responded in a great way,” Dyar said. “I haven’t had the backlash of them not wanting to do anything. They’ve all gotten behind it and they realize they can win games and they like winning games. It can be fun and challenging, but it’s worth it.”
The Lady Lions have 12 seniors on the team. Defenders Caroline Crone and Madison Mallach and midfielder Haley Clark are the senior captains.
Senior Marissa Porras was part of the upper-level club that forces players to choose between club and high school. She returns to Leander this season and will be pulling the strings from midfield.
“I think we’re pretty solid in all areas right now,” Dyar said. “It’s just the communication and believing in each other. They’re doing everything as a team this year. Before it was more individualized. They’ve found a way to play together.”
Leander faces off with Pflugerville on the road Friday at 7:30 p.m. before hosting Hyde Park next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The Lady Lions begin district play on Jan. 26 at home against Vista Ridge at 7:30 p.m.
“Our number one goal is to make it to playoffs,” Dyar said. “That’s something they’ve never done and I think it’s a possibility for us.”