Spring Branch Soccer Preview Pt. 1
Spring Woods: Spring Woods was 40 minutes away from history.
In the Region III-6A finals in April, Spring Woods fell short to Alief Elsik, 3-2, in its first regional final appearance since 2014.
For the past eight months, the Tigers have had to sit back and think about that loss. In that offseason period, Spring Woods has taken that "bad taste" and used it as fuel to prepare for 2020.
"We really upped our strength training," 15th-year coach Wadey Yaya said. "Our boys have gotten stronger, which has helped a lot with their endurance. Tie that into what they are mentally prepared for, they are shooting for the stars. This year they know this is our year. It's got to be our year."
The Tigers bring back a solid core of seniors, which Yaya refers to as one of the better ones he's had in six to seven years.
Leading the crew is Charles Grollitsch, who has been playing soccer since he was four years old, led the team and the district in scoring a year ago and has a clear goal in mind for 2020.
"It's state," Grollitsch said. "Just to have that on the wall at Spring Woods. Make sure everyone around knows our name, everyone in Texas fears us. That's my goal."
Grollitsch is surrounded by a solid group.
Start with center back Walter Constanza, who is a "dynamic player" that has played since his freshman year. Enoc Escalante, is solid at center mid with his play "technically impeccable", Edgar Gonzalez is a good midfielder and Jason Martinez is "fast and takes good shots".
The list could go on and on for Yaya. That's what makes this team a solid group from the starting 11 and beyond. "I think this is just a really good team," Yaya said. "Every player that plays on this team has an important role. That's why I think everyone's important."
Northbrook Boys: Bryce Haskett made the move this offseason to go from coaching the girls soccer team at Northbrook to taking over the boys program. Differences? "Definitely the speed of play, it's a lot faster game on the boys' side." Last season, the Raiders missed the playoff picture just barely, finishing behind Memorial and Jersey Village in the standings for that fourth spot. "Expectations are really high. We're working hard every day, looking forward to competition and going as far as we can." Players to watch include Herman Cortez, Delmaer Ortega and Andy Barajas.
Stratford Boys: Mark Wallace enters his sixth year leading Stratford. Coming off a down year for the Spartans – missing the playoffs for the first since 2015 – Wallace believes they will "trend up" in 2020. Wallace does bring back Goalkeeper of the Year Nicholas Hay – "Having that senior leadership back there with the young group in front of him gives me lots of confidence." Players to watch include Milan Jokic and James Manke.
Stratford Girls: Last season, Stratford made it to the playoffs eventually falling in the second round to Katy Tompkins. The Spartans went 12-4 in district, which was good for a third-place finish. Looking towards 2020, the group brings back a solid senior class of six. "We're all super close with each other, we're all really good friends and we have that competitive mentality." – senior Ashton Kettler said. Other seniors to watch include Dani Bloching, Allison Fuller, Meredith Clark, Rachel Cole and Katherine Latiolais.
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