Stuck in the Midland with you: Lady Wolves headed to regional tournament
THE COLONY -- As the Plano West girls soccer team walked off the field following a 3-1 win over Flower Mound, the fans chanted, "Midland, Midland, Midland."
The crowd wasn't confused about the sight of Tuesday night's regional quarterfinal, which was Cougar Stadium in The Colony, rather they were sending encouragement to the Lady Wolves, who are headed to Midland to play in the Region I Tournament.
"I think this is the first time anyone has ever been excited to go to Midland," said Taylor Jackson, West junior, with a laugh.
Jackson is part of a massive West junior class that advanced to regionals in 2010 before losing to McKinney Boyd in the finals.
"The majority of our juniors were freshmen and actually playing varsity then," said Carley Phillips, West head coach. "So they know what it takes at regionals and I think what happened last time is a motivating factor for the girls."
"I still remember the feeling after we lost [to Boyd]," Jackson said. "That's something we don't want to go through again. We lost to Boyd as freshmen and then to Coppell (in the first round) last year, so a lot of the juniors have been saying third time's the charm."
While many on West's have been to regionals before, this is the maiden voyage for some of the younger players.
"I'm really excited for this," said Morgan Murphy, West sophomore. "We're staying focused and we're all playing for each other."
That mentality will be a must in Midland.
West faces El Paso Montwood in the regional semis (noon Friday at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland) with a win there pushing the team into the regional finals against Arlington or Flower Mound Marcus at noon Saturday. The Lady Wolves are ranked No. 6 in the country but the Lady Marauders, their District 8-5A mates and potential regional finals opponent, are No. 3.
"We are mentally prepared to face anyone," said Casie Ramsier, West junior.
They are also prepared for the unique circumstances the regional site can provide.
"We know what to expect out there," Ramsier said. "It is very dry in Midland, so you've got to hydrate a lot."
Fitness will be important as well which is why, after a taxing week of soccer that included varsity and club play, the Lady Wolves are taking a breath before Midland.
"It was a long week," Jackson said, "so regrouping mentally is big right now."
West is attempting to advance to the state tournament for the first time since winning the Class 5A State Championship in 2007, a fact that also had the fans chanting, "All the way to state," following Tuesday's victory.
But Georgetown isn't a focus just yet for the Lady Wolves.
"We are taking everything one game at a time and focused on things like keeping possession and finishing chances," Phillips said. "But the girls are ready and if we play our game, I feel like this is a tough team to beat."