In his third season as coach of the A&M Consolidated girls soccer team, Joey Lockart is growing more and more familiar with his players. Perhaps more importantly though, they are more knowledgeable of what he expects of them.
“It’s the biggest senior class since I’ve been here,” Lockart said. “This is the first class in two or three years that they know what I want inside and out. They came into high school with me as their coach and so there has been a lot less hooting and hollering on the sideline from our coaching staff because our players know what we want.”
Playing the game the way Lockart wants and having depth are two of the biggest reasons the Lady Tigers believe they can at least duplicate their third-place finish in District 19-5A.
Consol finished 11-6-3 overall last season and 9-4-1 in district, which was only two points in the standings behind first-place College Station.
“That’s our big thing [depth] and that’s what makes this year’s team different from years past,” Lockart said. “We’ve relied on some impactful players to make the big plays and to make a big difference but this year’s team is probably a little less explosive but better in terms in their knowledge of the game. I preach that some days you are not going to be the biggest, fastest players on the field so lets learn the game so when we play those big, fast, strong people we can play in and out of them and play to our strength, which is knowing how to get in and out of different situations.”
The Lady Tigers lost four starters from last season, a majority of which were on the back line. Junior Kayla Tomlinson returns at center back and will be joined there by senior Amberly McShane, who does have some starts under her belt. Freshman Reagan Lee, a converted goalkeeper, has won the right back position.
Lockart’s strongest line should be the midfield with four-year starter Kayla Bennett the holding midfielder and senior Lauren Turner, who has been injury plagued, and freshman Isa Bergeon-Prejean the two attacking mids. Lockart can also turn to KK Haas, who was last season’s defensive player of the district, to come off the bench or to start when he goes to a 4-4-2.
“[Bennett] commands our midfield. She organizes us and is great at playing the long diagonal ball which is super dangerous for our wingers to get on to,” Lockart said. “[Bergeron-Prejean] is a very good player, naturally a left back, but we plugged her into the midfield because she is a good creator and can really thump a ball. She had a 32-yard goal against Duncanville.”
The goals could come from a number of players, with Lockart giving Camille Corbitt, Jennifer Ramirez and Hannah Goble. Cosette McGuire is starting at left wing for the third consecutive season and Maggie Bright and Isabella Thompson are getting time at right wing.
“Our No. 9 has kind of been on a rotation right now and we are trying to see who offers what at what moments,” Lockart said. “I ask that person to do a whole lot of work off the ball so we are seeing that it’s not necessarily one player.”
Lockart is also testing a couple of players out at goalkeeper. Junior Alyssa Crites and senior Isabelle Caldwell have each started games during the tournament phase of the nonconference season. Crites started all but two district matches last season.
The Lady Tigers lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Tomball and will be looking to finish higher than third in 2020 to avoid having to matchup against the best of a very good district in the first round.
“Our bi-district matchup is solid,” Lockart said. “You can finish first in our district and have a tough time, as College Station did last year [won on penalties]. I substitute strategically, substitute on quality of play and that helps, as well as injury prevention. The difference between a strong district performance and a playoff run is you need your players when it comes down to it.”