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Some of the stars of 2023-24 Clear Springs Volleyball
THIS CLEAR SPRINGS TEAM COMES BACK LOADED FOR 2023.
The Chargers have reached the Regional Semifinals for three-straight seasons and look to break through the ceiling to make the program’s first-ever Regional Finals match.
Shannon McClellan enters year 12 of leading the Chargers and sits just 17 wins away from career victory No. 300 (283-159).
Clear Springs went 39-9 a year ago and returns six starters off that squad, including District 24-6A MVP Ashley Richardson (479 kills, 741 assists, 379 digs).
The Chargers also bring back District 24-6A Setter of the Year Morgen Durgens (853 assists, 277 digs) and first-team, all-district selections Abby Fuller (577 digs) and Anzley Rinard (308 kills, 128 digs, 79 blocks).
Keys for success for McClellan’s crew in 2023 include having team chemistry and ball control.
The Woodlands Soccer celebrates their victory in the Regional Quarterfinals
This past weekend’s Regional Quarterfinals showcased just how talented Houston 6A Boys Soccer is.
Out of the final 16 teams competing in the Regional Tournament, six are from the Houston area.
From Clear Springs to The Woodlands, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if any of these top-tier clubs will be competing for the State Championship in two weeks.
Here is the outlook for this week in H-Town Soccer
6A Boys Soccer
*Record Format: W-L-T (Tournament games not included)
*List is ordered alphabetically
Photo acquired via Twitter: @CSHS_BoysSoccer
Clear Springs Chargers
2022-23 Regular Season: 9-4-5/District 24-6A Champions (8-1-3)
Head Coach: Kenny Webb
Round 3 MVP(s): Senior GK Sam Bermudez & Senior CB Jesus "Chuy" Becerril--Both had a significant impact on limiting the North Shore attack, with Becerril, in particular, locking down their Center Striker, whereas Bermudez came in the clutch with several decisive saves.
Regional Semifinals Matchup: v. Seven Lakes
Keys to the Game: "Seven Lakes is an offensive juggernaut and equally talented in the back," said Coach Webb. "We will have to play our best game of the season just to keep it close. If our midfield can take some pressure of the back line by maintaining possession, we may have a chance."
Prospectus: Clear Springs has been one of the more underrated teams in the UIL Playoffs.
Throughout the postseason, the Chargers have proven to be a resilient bunch against some intimidating matchups, which is a testament to the defensive effort flummoxing the opposition's attack. Furthermore, two of their playoff games, thus far, have ended in PKs which gave Clear Springs' finest strikers the opportunity to make some crucial shots.
The last Clear Creek ISD representative will need that and then some to give a top team like Seven Lakes a run for their money, but that is what HC Kenny Webb is counting on.
"The boys have done a great job of denying opponents quality shots," Webb said. "It goes back to the defensive commitment the guys have displayed. We will have to continue to commit to defending against the top team in the state."
Photo acquired via Joseph & Rachel Carmichael
Cypress Woods Wildcats
2022-23 Regular Season: 9-2-4/District 16-6A Champions (8-2-4)
Head Coach: Joseph Carmichael
Regional Semifinals Matchup: v. Sachse
Keys to the Game: "The next match will be different, considering we’re on the road, but it’s nothing new for the players," said Carmichael. "We’re going into the match prepared. The team is healthy, and our depth will help defend our record."
Prospectus: Cy Woods has been one of the more underrated teams of this postseason.
Despite facing off against numerous opponents with incredible potential, the Wildcats always seem to have an answer.
"Our greatest strength on the field is the fact that the team is focused, committed and determined," Carmichael said. "They play well together and execute as a team. Off the field, it’s the 212º fans! The students, families, and community have shown tremendous support. It keeps the team going week after week, and it's what will keep them going is the next match. They're not done, and the boys are first to tell you, 'There's more work to be done!'."
Given their top-notch direction from Carmichael, a defense that is adept at disrupting opposing attack, an experienced midfield, and an offense that wreaks havoc in enemy territory, Cy Woods has all the ingredients necessary to make a run for the State Title.
Photo acquired via Twitter: @DobieBoysSoccer
2022-23 Regular Season: 12-0-3/District 22-6A Champions (10-0-2)
Head Coach: Justo Manrique
Round 3 MVP(s): "Our MVPs consisted of Daniel Blanco (Sr.) on defense, Victor Hernandez (Sr.) in the midfield, Jordi Garcia (Sr.) up top," said Coach Manrique.
Regional Semifinals Matchup: v. Katy Jordan
Keys to the Game: "The most important asset needed is the belief that we can win."
Prospectus: The sole representative of Pasadena ISD left in the UIL playoffs, the Dobie Longhorns have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Credit where credit is due. Coach Justo Manrique's back line has been stellar in rounds one through three, most recently limiting an electric Pearland attack to just one goal. Furthermore, their midfield has almost seamlessly been able to advance the ball up-field for the strikers to finish.
Their next game against Katy Jordan should prove to be an interesting match to watch, as both teams have been exceptional at adapting to the opposition's game-plan.
"Dobie's greatest strengths have to be our unity, teamwork, and adaptability," Manrique said. "The team has made it this far because they've trained hard and they take care of things within their control."
Photo acquired via Twitter: @KatyJordanBSoc
Katy Jordan Warriors
2022-23 Regular Season: 10-5-2/Finished 3rd in District 19-6A
Head Coach: Jason Meekins
Round 3 MVP(s): Senior Defender Ben Bucic & Junior GK Elijah Betancourt--"Bucic has been rock solid on our backline and has 3 big goals in our 3 playoff games including the game tying goal vs Cy Ridge and game winner vs Paetow on Friday," said Coach Meekins. "He’s playing his best soccer at the right time."
"Betancourt has made a few game changing saves to hold a lead or keep games tied. He’s done a fabulous job distributing the ball to start our attack as well."
Regional Semifinals Matchup: v. Dobie
Keys to the Game: "Dobie is very organized and play well as a group," Meekins said. "Defensively, they keep really good shape and defend as a unit which makes it difficult to break them down. It’s going to be important for us to connect our passes in the attacking half and finish the opportunities we create in the final third. In the attack, Dobie does a great job on set pieces and putting the ball in dangerous areas. We must be organized and willing to challenge every 1st and 2nd ball in the midfield and up front."
Prospectus: Katy Jordan is coming off a thriller against district rival Paetow, which sends them to the Regional Tournament for the second-straight year. The fact that they've been in the position before is precisely what makes them a team worth fearing.
"We have been in playoff mindset for a while, and as the games get bigger, we seem to get better," said Meekins. "Our results through our first 6 district games (2-4) didn't put us in a good position. However, for the last 13 games we are 10-1-2 in an extremely tough district including our playoff matches. The kids handle the pressure of big games well and our goal each time out is to 'earn one more chance to play'. Our players and coaching staff live by that message."
The Warriors are sure to bring that experience and resiliency with them as they prepare to take on Dobie later this week.
Seven Lakes Spartans
2022-23 Regular Season: 15-1-1/District 19-6A Champions (15-0-1)
Head Coach: Jim Krueger
Round 3 MVP(s): Junior MF Aiden Morrison & Junior GK Ben Aviles-- With only 1:25 left in the match, the Spartans were down 2-0 when Morrison sent a cross into the box off a set piece for Kortay Koc to head the ball in, making the game 2-1. With 2 seconds remaining, Morrison would shoot a game-tying PK to send the match into OT, where Seven Lakes would ultimately defeat Cinco Ranch in a penalty shootout (6-5) due to a clutch save by their keeper, Ben Aviles.
Regional Semifinals Matchup: v. Clear Springs
Prospectus: Seven Lakes is coming off a thriller against their district rivals, Cinco Ranch.
As one of the top teams in the state, the Spartans proved that they should never be counted out, considering they came back to win from what seemed like a decided 2-0 game.
The Katy ISD team is loaded on all fronts, with an experienced coach in Jim Krueger, and have continued to emerge victorious from every matchup they face.
They will be facing Clear Springs with more momentum than ever.
Photo taken by Marco Beijen (TWHS)--Referral from HC Jason Fanning
The Woodlands Highlanders
2022-23 Regular Season: 19-2-2/District 13-6A Champions (14-0-2)
Head Coach: Jason Fanning
Round 3 MVP(s): Junior CB Sasha Angelkov, Junior CM Henrique Caputo, Junior CM Cole Baptist, and Senior GK Danny Ramsey
Regional Semifinals Matchup: v. Naaman Forest
Keys to the Game: "We will need to stay calm and absorb Naaman Forest's attack," said Coach Fanning. "Furthermore, we will need to be efficient when we have the ball in their half and take our chances when they are given."
Prospectus: The Highlanders have been eager for the opportunity to return to the State Semis all season long.
They have looked just as efficient and dominant as they did a year ago, if not more so. This can be accredited to the fact that they have one of the most complete rosters in the state of Texas, from their shutdown defense to their punishing attack.
"Our team works very hard, defensively," Fanning said. "We frustrate our opponents and force them to solve difficult puzzles. The players compete everyday in practice, and hold each other accountable for the expectations we have set for ourselves."
Naaman Forest will give TWHS a run for their money, but if their preceding performances are any indication, Highlanders Soccer could be on the fast track to a redemption arc.