Vandegrift girls soccer team eyes return to state tournament

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The Vandegrift girls’ soccer team is just a few years from winning a state title and they think they have the makeup to do it again this season.

The Lady Vipers have started this season with six straight games without a loss. They beat Nolan Catholic and Cibolo Steele to open the year and drew with Arlington Martin and Westwood in the next two games and topped Frenship at Round Rock last Friday at Saturday, respectively.

“Our goal is still to make to state and be district champions,” Vandegrift head coach Jen Hardy said. “We’ve been able to win state and be the state runner up. Moving into 6A, we went to a big tournament early this year and we did really well.”

Vandegrift is No. 17 in the Top Drawer Soccer State Rankings. Nolan Catholic started the year at No. 14 and Arlington Martin was No. 18 before falling in the season opening tournament.

Senior Grace Erdman leads the team with two goals while Holly Streber, Alaina LaPlace and Kayla Streber each have one goal. Sarah Mahosky, Paige Crossman, Adaline Carter, Gabie Jones and Brooke McArthur each have an assist.

Hardy has been at Vandegrift since the school opened in 2009 an d said part of the reason the Vipers have been good is due to the quality of girls soccer in LISD. In each of the last seven years, Cedar Park, Vista Ridge or Vandegrift has made it to the state tournament.

“We’ve all been there,” Hardy said. “And we always have to beat each other to go. I’ve got to give clubs some credit. Some of the girls join and some don’t. We’re just lucky enough to be in a soccer rich area and there are lot off girls.”

But it’s not just the high-quality high school and club play that leads to the success. The National Women’s Soccer League was formed in 2013 and had 10 teams from across the country. Some games have been broadcast on ESPN and Fox Sports.

Plus, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team has been ranked No. 1 in the world since wining the World Cup in July 2015 and boasts the back-to-back FIFA Women’s player of the year, Carli Lloyd.

 “It’s not just central Texas, but it’s the nation,” Hardy said. “Women’s soccer is rising across the country and that’s just really helping to bring awareness to young athletes on something to strive for.”

Vandegrift wraps up the pre-district schedule Friday at 7 p.m. when it hosts Cedar Ridge at Monroe Stadium. The Lady Vipers begin district play next Tuesday at Westlake before returning home to play Lehman next Friday.

The year they won it all in 2014, Hardy said there were those that believed they didn’t have the most talented players. The mentality of the teams as not selfish, rather, each player can do for the greater good.

“Part of the reason we were able to do that was because everybody on that team was on the team for each other,” Hardy said. “It wasn’t about personal recognition. There was a level of intensity and drive to play to the very last second. That’s what I believe I have in this team again.”

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