The Dallas Morning News
Two area teams win soccer titles
Coach, players thought they could win it all last year before COVID
Riley Baker led Flower Mound to a 2-1 state championship win over Austin Vandegrift in Class 6A. In Class 4A, Midlothian Heritage beat Corpus Christi Calallen 6-0.
GEORGETOWN — Her teammates were taking photos and celebrating a 2-1 state championship win over Austin Vandegrift, but for a brief moment, Flower Mound junior Sydney Becerra had to get away. She escaped down the sideline of Georgetown’s Birkelbach Field, took a seat against the back wall of the stadium seating, and put her head down.
Becerra did this for two reasons.
One: Her emotions were becoming overwhelming, and she didn’t want to cry in front of everybody.
Two: She had to process what just happened, and what was just completed.
Under different circumstances, Becerra might not have been playing in Friday’s 6A state championship game. She had played for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy her first two years of high school, and she might’ve played a third if the academy didn’t shut down last March. But when that happened, Becerra pivoted to playing for her high school team. So did senior Riley Baker for her first and only season for the Lady Jaguars.
The tandem, “partners in crime,” as Baker said, were essential to Flower Mound’s state championship win over Vandegrift. Baker, a Kansas State signee, scored twice in the second half on assists by Becerra.
“It is so fitting for her to get both of those assists,” said Baker, who finished her only high school season with 27 goals and nine assists. “She sets me up all the time.”
With the additions of Baker and Becerra, Flower Mound coach Misail Tsapos thought he had two missing pieces to a state championship picture. He believed that, though, because he knew what his team was returning from the year before.
Flower Mound ended last season as the No. 1 girls 6A team in the area rankings. If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, players and coaches on the team believe they could’ve won a state title a year ago.
By the time the first practice had ended, Baker — who was named the state championship MVP — could see why.
“I knew this team was capable of greatness,” Baker said about her first practice with the team, “and that’s exactly what we just achieved.”
The team established that potential by beating topranked Prosper 3-1 in the third round of the playoffs. After that, the Jaguars defeated Northwest Eaton, crosstown rival Flower Mound Marcus and Conroe The Woodlands by a combined score of 12-0.
That dominance, however, didn’t carry over to the state title game.
Vandegrift proved to be a tough task for the Lady Jaguars for the majority of Friday’s game. Both defenses had answers for the other team’s attack. In the first half, Flower Mound outshot Vandegrift 4-3, but none of the shots ended in the back of the net.
At halftime, Tsapos said he told his team to remain focused. He also preached the importance of controlling the midfield — a group that included Becerra, junior Avery Simmons and junior Skye Leach — and stretching Vandegrift’s defense out wide.
“Let’s see if we can get behind them and create some opportunities,” Tsapos recalled telling his team.
The game plan worked, leading to a goal from Baker in the 55th minute. Two minutes later, Vandegrift answered. But Becerra later found Baker again, who rifled a shot off her right toe past the Vandegrift goalie for what was the gamewinning goal.