They went from one of Pasco’s worst, to one of the firsts.
That’s one way to describe the turnaround the Cypress Creek varsity girls’ soccer team experienced this season.
After winning just three games in its inaugural campaign during the 2017-18 season, the Coyotes this year emerged as one of the county’s top programs.
They finished the season with an 11-4 mark — quite the contrast to last year’s 3-13 finish.
It included wins against such rival schools as Land O’ Lakes, Pasco, Sunlake, Wesley Chapel and Wiregrass Ranch, each of whom have fielded top-flight squads over the years.
In fact, the Coyotes went undefeated against all of its Pasco opponents.
The team’s only defeats came against private schools: Berkeley Prep, Clearwater Central Catholic, Academy of the Holy Names, and a season-ending 1-0 loss in the District 9-2A quarterfinals to Tampa Catholic.
The Coyotes biggest accomplishment, however, was winning the Sunshine Athletic Conference East championship.
It marked the first conference championship for any boys’ or girls’ sport for the second-year Wesley Chapel-based school.
They claimed the title after securing late-season conference wins against Pasco (5-0) and Wiregrass Ranch (2-1), respectively.
“It’s super exciting,” Coyotes second-year head coach Jennifer Richardson said of the conference crown. “It’s a great accomplishment for the team, for the school. The girls were very excited and they knew what was on the line in the last game, and they came and they played hard.”
Said senior sweeper Katelyn Leavines: “It makes me proud that I know I can end my senior year like this, and, like helping the school bring its first conference championship in history…makes me really happy.
She added, “Going from winning three games last year to now being conference champs, it just shows like the dedication that we all have and the hard work that we put in to make it happen.”
So, how exactly did Cypress Creek secure a winning season so quickly?
An influx of talented newcomers — including a group of eight freshman — bolstered a roster that previously lacked much soccer experience.
“Last year we didn’t have as many players that were soccer players. We had people that came out to the team that had never played soccer before, so this year, more people came out to play that had played soccer previously,” Richardson explained.
The most significant addition perhaps was junior goalkeeper Alina Vizza. She joined the team after not playing last year.
Vizza’s contributions can be summed up in the team’s goals allowed per game.
This year the team surrendered less than two goals per game, with three shutouts.
Compare that to last season, when the Coyotes gave up an average of 5.5 goals per game.
“She made a huge difference in our game,” Richardson said. “She’s tall. She knows how to move in the right spot and cut the angles. She wants to win.”
Freshman striker Emily Dominguez was another key addition. She finished the season as one of the team’s top scorers with nine goals.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes returned some experienced playmakers in juniors Raegan Bourne (who led the team in with 12 goals and five assists) and Sophia Mitchell (nine goals).
The new-look squad brought a hard-nosed approach to each game.
“We’re physical players,” Richardson said. “We’re tough, physical players. Our midfield is strong, physical.”
An upbeat mindset and newfound confidence also helped throughout the season’s course, players said.
Leavines put it this way: “Every week we always kept it positive no matter who we were playing, and, we never had an attitude of, ‘Oh, this team’s going to beat us’ or like, ‘Oh. they’re better than us.’ We just kept it positive and knew that we had a chance every single time, and, to just play our hardest.”
Added Dominguez: “It was like after our fifth game, and we kept winning, and all we could think about was winning. so we practiced hard…and it like improved us.”
Losing just three seniors and all but one starter expected to return next season, Cypress Creek figures to be more than just a one-year wonder.
“The majority of our starting team will be back next year, which is good,” Richardson said, “and I know that there’s middle school girls that know how to play that are coming up, so it’s exciting to know for the future that we’re still going to have players for next year, and we’re going to be a contender again.
“I think we shocked a lot of people, because last year we had three wins.”
2018-2019 Cypress Creek girls varsity soccer roster
- Head coach: Jennifer Richardson
- Abby Murphy, junior, midfielder
- Alina Vizza, junior, goalkeeper
- Anna Margetis, junior, defender
- Briana Rivera, freshman, midfielder
- Brianna Sharpe, freshman, midfielder
- Emily Dominguez, freshman, striker
- Hailey Canady, freshman, goalkeeper/striker
- Katelyn Leavines, senior, sweeper
- Raegan Bourne, junior, forward
- Riley Copeland, junior, defender
- Rylee Crawford, freshman, defender
- Rylie Showalter, freshman, defender
- Sierra Rivera, senior, midfielder
- Sofia Ibata, freshman, midfielder
- Sophia Mitchell, junior, midfielder
- Tiffany Pike, senior, goalkeeper/defender
- Ximena Garcia, freshman, midfielder
Game-by-game results for 2018-2019 season
Nov. 12: Gulf (8-1 win)
Nov. 14: Wesley Chapel (3-2 win)
Nov. 15: at Brooke DeBartolo Collegiate (5-0 win)
Nov. 26: Sunlake (3-1 win)
Nov. 27: Berkeley Prep (3-0 loss)
Nov. 29: Tampa Prep (2-1 win)
Dec. 4: Clearwater Central Catholic (4-1 loss)
Dec. 7: at Land O’ Lakes (3-2 win)
Dec. 11: at Fivay (4-2 win)
Dec. 13: at Academy of the Holy Names (8-0 loss)
Jan. 9: at Tampa Prep (1-0 win)
Jan. 11: Tampa Catholic (4-1 win)
Jan: 18: Pasco (5-0 win)
Jan. 22: Wiregrass Ranch (2-1 win)
Jan. 25: District 9-2A quarterfinals Tampa Catholic (1 – 0 loss)
Published January 30, 2019