By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
Elizabeth Castaneda says it just came to her and doesn't remember if it was in the middle of a dream, the middle of a class or the middle of scoring a goal.
But Castaneda's idea for warmup shirts with the words “Our Season Has Come” stuck with the other girls on Corsicana's girls soccer team, and it's become more than a motto.
Castaneda, a senior forward who can score goals in bunches, and her senior teammates have been playing together for years and they all believe this could be their year.
It just might be.
“We have a lot of seniors and they want to be different,'' said Stan Jones, who coaches both the girls and boys soccer teams.
“We have a long tradition at Corsicana, but tradition is one thing and being legendary is another. They want to be legendary.''
Jones knows this year's girls team is not only different, but a team that wants to leave its mark on the program. In fact, both the boys and girls teams are looking forward to the season, which begins on Thursday when the girls play in the Pine Tree Round Robin Tournament in Longview. The boys open at Mexia on Tuesday.
“We want to make a name for ourselves,'' said senior Alex Bland, one of seven starters who returns on the girls team. “We want to leave our footprints. We want to be remembered.''
Last year's team made it to the third round of the playoffs before losing to powerhouse Waxahachie, and even though Corsicana has built a strong tradition in soccer, reaching the playoffs every year, only one girls team has ever reached the fourth round of the playoffs.
That's where this group wants to go.
“Last year we went to the third round. This year we're going above and beyond,'' said senior MaKenzi Taylor. “Like Buzz Lightyear said:. 'To infinity and beyond,' '' she said with a smile.
Jones believes this could be the year for a district title — even though the Lady Tigers have to play soccer powers Waxahachie and Red Oak in District 28-4A.
“I'm not saying we don't have a chance to win it,'' he said. “We're shooting for it. In comparison to last year we're more athletic and we have a senior group that is very driven. There are less distractions this year and they are more focused on winning. They're a different team.''
Castaneda scored 25 goals last year and Taylor has the ability to score on anyone. She had a hat trick against Red Oak. Marisol Miranda a solid player and leader, returns at midfield to give Corsicana a dangerous force in the middle and Jones said senior midfielder Jenny Garcia is “just a phenomenal player who can put any where on the field,'' and the addition of freshman Helen Hibbs, who is one of the fastest players on the field, has made this year's team ever quicker and more athletic.
“When we scrimmaged Waco University, the first thing their coach told me after the game is that he thought we were a lot more athletic,'' Jones said.
And it's more than talent, it's a mindset to be better than a year ago.
“We have heart and a passion on the field, and we have more leaders,'' Bland said. “And we hold everyone accountable this year. We're the seniors and we have to step up and be leaders. It's a different team than last year.''
And everyone is on the same page.
“We're closer than before,'' Garcia said. “
The Lady Tigers have a new goalkeeper in senior Cindy Turrubiartes, but Jones said she's a perfect fit already because she has been a backup for two years and comes in as a senior ready to take charge in the net. She has already shown why. In three scrimmages against Irving Nimitz, Waco University and Palestine, Turrubiartes has given up only two goals, and one was on a breakaway. The Lady Tigers outscored those three opponents 10-2 in the three scrimmages.
There's not only a lot of talent and speed, but Jones said this is the deepest team he has had in his six years coaching at his alma mater, where he was an all-state place kicker for the football team.
“We have the makeup to have a great year,'' Jones said. “At the end of the day, they want to make a name for themselves.''
Tigers want to grow into a force
The boys team hasn't had as much success as the girls, but Jones said this could be the yer the boys make a leap.
“We're finally getting our key players back,'' Jones said. “And the sophomore class is really talented. Michael Roman (a senior forward) scored 10 goals just in the district last year and had a great run.''
Jones has seen improvement and believes this team can reach the playoffs. He has his captain, Allen Bernal, a senior outside midfielder who is a three-year starter, back along with Juan Rojas, a junior midfielder who can score.
A big difference is what he has on the bench.
“This team is different because we're a lot deeper,'' Jones said. “Our drop-off from our No. 1s to our No. 2s isn't that big. That can make a big difference in a game.''
Jones will be without goalkeeper Hector Calvillo, who is out for six weeks with torn miniscus, but backup Alex Galindo, a sophomore, has stepped in and looked good in the scrimmages. Jones said he has a long list of talented sophomores that include Miguel Hernandez, Orlando Zuniga, Jesus Barreto, Fernando Soto and Christian Castro, who Jones said can play any where on the field.
“I feel we're a lot better,'' Jones said. “Last year we lost to the defending 4A state champ Waco University 7-0 and this year they beat us 2-0 and we only lost to Nimitz, a 5A school, 1-0. We're closing the gap. We're about to get over the hump.
“It's the mindset that we're tired of being at the bottom,'' he said. “We're going to work harder. I think we're ready to get over he hump.''