Ladycats roar into district soccer play
Feb. 17, 2012 at 5 a.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.
A playoff team with high expectations faced a stunning 0-2 start to the season after a junior varsity and a TAPPS team defeated them.
It was in that Jan. 13 loss to St. Joseph that something clicked for the Bay City girls soccer program. Even in the 3-0 defeat the Ladycats saw that they were beginning to play well.
Their confidence has been evident in the results, as the Ladycats haven't lost since.
Bay City's 2-0 victory over Columbia on Feb. 14 gives the Lady Cats (5-2-1) a six game unbeaten streak entering their Feb. 14 District 47-4A opener against Columbia confident.
"The season has to start somewhere," said junior forward Madison McDonald recently. "We have to learn what we need to work on before we can work on it. It took a lot of mistakes so we can learn what it is that we needed to work on in practice. You can tell in our games now that our practices have really worked out."
Two-touch passing, running into space and movement off the ball were among the lessons head coach Darin Dablegott instilled in future practices following the Crossroads Classic in mid-January.
"During tough times we can get down," said winger Rachel Schumacher. "We usually pick ourselves back up because we really do love each other. We are a big family. There is not a group here, or a group there, or a group there. We all train together and practice together. I like my family."
As long as Schumacher and McDonald have played together the family reference is not a recycled cliché. In Bay City girls could begin soccer at 3 years-old and Schumacher took advantage. Her dad, Ross, was McDonald's first coach.
Defender Karina Clements also started playing soccer when she was 3, but McDonald and Schumacher recall the sophomore playing on another team.
Clements' new position highlighted the difference between the 2012 Lady Cats, as opposed to the 2011 bunch that advanced to the area round of the playoffs. Clements was the stopper for the 2011 team.
After allowing 10 goals in their first two games, Bay City has allowed just four goals during its unbeaten streak. Clements said "Whenever I am in I don't want them to score on me. 'If I am on the field, they won't get anything past me' and I try to keep that mindset.'"
With a laugh Clements said she didn't initially like the switch to stopper, but has adjusted.
Bay City uses a 4-3-3 system. Frequently, teams that employ that system have a band of four defenders at the back. But, Dabelgott prefers to stack his central defenders, with a stopper playing in front of the sweeper.
"To be honest, I was nervous because I was really close with our last sweeper. I had so much trust in her," McDonald said. "This year I was really nervous because I didn't know who would take her spot. When D put her back there, it was unexpected, but she has done an awesome job. She has pleasantly surprised me."
After qualifying for the playoffs each of the past three seasons, Dablegott said this team has the ability to challenge Angleton and Brazosport for the district crown this year. In addition to Clements at the back, four-year starter Kim Reed is able to clean nearly everything else in goal.
Reed tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee late in the 2011 district season. But Dablegott believes Reed's injury only encouraged others to step up their game, in her absence. Now that Reed is back, the Lady Cats are more resolute defensively.
"It seems like the defense tightened up because they were used to having her back there," Dablegott said. "Since we had a couple freshmen back there (in goal last year) the defense tightened up to protect them. Now that we have Kim back, it's helped us in the long run."