Soccer season at Aledo High School has reached its “second season” and both the Ladycats and Bearcats have qualified for the second round following bi-district playoff wins last week.
Not only do the two AHS teams play the same school – Wichita Falls High School – but they will play their respective area round matches at the same stadium, Roughrider Stadium at Saginaw High School.
The Ladycats and Lady Coyotes will square off at 5 p.m. today, and the Bearcats and Coyotes will take to the pitch at 7 p.m.
The Bearcats (15-6-2) are a big story this season considering they missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years last season. Head coach Derek Vierling believes his team “grew up” last week in its emotional and exciting 2-1 double-overtime win in the opening round of the playoffs over Arlington Heights.
“The guys won a huge playoff game,” Vierling said. “The first one is always the hardest especially since we have so little playoff experience on the team.
“I thought we played really well scoring two goals with neither one of our top goal scorers scoring them. It was awesome seeing others (Joaquin Gonzalez, Reed Vierling) pick up the scoring slack. That gives everyone confidence knowing that anyone can score and we can win without relying on our go-to guys.
“Confidence is soaring right now. The guys were super pumped about the win, especially to win the way we did in OT. We have had a whole week off to prepare and we had a good week of practice. We will go out and give them a great game.”
Vierling said state-ranked No. 3 Wichita Falls (19-1-5) is a well-rounded team that plays well on both ends of the pitch.
“Wichita Falls’ strength is their midfield and the two attacking players up top,” he said. “They have two good strikers of the ball. They work very well together. The team defends well as a unit.
“I feel we need to shut down the two front players for a chance to win the game. I feel that our mids (midfielders) are playing very well right now. I believe that if we can get them involved in the attack we should have a great opportunity to make some things happen that could be very positive for us in the end.
“It should be our strength against their strength. It will be a great soccer match.”
Ladycats head Bryan Johnson’s team reached the second round last year before falling 1-0 to state-ranked Birdville. He feels his playoff-seasoned team has unfinished business and is ready to take the next step against 16-2-3 Wichita Falls.
“I feel very confident in the way the team is presently playing,” Johnson said. “We are coming off a very nice win and hopefully the momentum that we created will spill over into our game (today).
“I feel our strength is still our defensive unit and as the midfield continues to strengthen it will only increase our strength in the back.”
The Ladycats (17-3-3) are facing a veteran playoff team that is no stranger to the second round.
“They are very experienced having played in the second round of the playoffs the last three years in a row,” Johnson said. “They also like to possess the ball, so we will apply a lot of pressure to try and put them out of their rhythm.”
In other Aledo High School sports today, the Aledo Ladycats softball team will take on District 8-5A leader Burleson Centennial at 7 p.m. today at the AHS softball field. A win would leave the Ladycats one game behind the Lady Spartans in the race for the top spot in 8-5A.
The Bearcats will travel to Granbury today, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Both the Bearcats and Granbury are locked in a three-way tie for first place with Burleson Centennial as all three sport 4-1 district marks.
An Aledo win would put the Bearcats at the very least in a two-way tie for first place. Centennial plays at 3-2 Cleburne today.
Today is also the opening round of the 36-hole girls’ District 8-5A golf tournament. The tournament will be held today and Monday at Pecan Valley Golf Course in Benbrook.