Claiming the District 28-6A championship with a perfect record was one of the items on Clark’s to do list.
It was quite a chore to charge to the 28-6A crown without a loss or tie, but Clark (18-2-2, 18-0-0) kept its eye on the prize and accomplished what they set out to do with well-rounded offensive and defensive play.
Although being district champs means a great deal, the Cougars have more work to do. Their next order of business is a successful run through the Class 6A playoffs. The first step begins with a bi-district match against Churchill at 7 p.m. Thursday at Farris Stadium.
Success in the playoffs has been the Cougars’ No. 1 goal since last year’s loss to Johnson in round three. It was disappointing to see the season come to an end, but instead of dwelling on the setback, the players used it as motivation.
During the offseason and beginning of soccer workouts the Monday after Thanksgiving, the Cougars set their sights on making amends.
“We knew we could be better this year,” senior goalkeeper Natalia Fuentes said. “When we lost in the third round, we thought we could have made it farther. Being seniors, we knew this was our last time. We want to go farther. That’s been our goal.”
Although Clark soared through 28-6A things didn’t begin on a high note. Clark began the year with a 0-2-2 record in The Woodlands Tournament. The Cougars turned the negative into a positive with 18 straight wins.
“We didn’t win any games and we knew we had to pick it up,” senior Sarah Steffen said. “We won our first district game (against Jay) and that was big. Winning the second was bigger, because it was against Taft and we lost to them last year. From then, we said ‘come on, we got this, let’s keep going.”
The Cougars have been going full speed.
Steffen has helped on the defensive side, while also contributing offensively with five goals and five assists.
Junior Andrea Santos has been a major contributor with 18 goals and 10 assists.
Freshman Taylor Tommack has proven to be a major addition by recording 24 assists and knocking in 12 goals.
Clark’s scoring has also received a boost from Hannah Faustino (15 goals, five assists), Emily Hight (12 goals, three assists), Lauren Nylund and Emma Nylund, who have five goals with 10 assists.
On the defensive side, Grace Gibson, who helped Clark to the Region IV volleyball finals in volleyball, freshman Hailey Adams, who played a part in the Cougars trip to the Region IV finals in basketball, and Megan Klenke have remained stout, along with Fuentes, who has allowed 10 goals all season.
Talent is present, but mainly it’s the overall connection that make things click.
“Everyone works really hard,” Steffen said. “Our freshmen are doing a really good job. We’re playing together. Our bench has been huge for us. We’ve been able to finish matches. We hope to keep that mentality in the playoffs.”
Now, they’re looking to enjoy another memorable run.
“Our freshmen have never been in the playoffs,” Clark coach Diana Driggers said. “But they have played top level soccer. They’ve grown this year. We have great leadership from our seniors. I know they’ll give it their best shot. We’re excited about the playoffs.”