Last year, Sherman’s girls soccer team was just happy to be in the playoffs after a six-year absence.

Last year, Sherman’s girls soccer team was just happy to be in the playoffs after a six-year absence.


The Lady Bearcats’ postseason inexperience showed as they suffered an 8-0 loss in the first round. So Tuesday night’s bi-district match against Frisco Wakeland will give the Lady Cats and head coach John Williams a good measurement of just how much the team has grown from year to year.


"I’ve got so many girls who have never played Division I-level soccer, and it’s a shock to them to play the Friscos and McKinneys and Prospers of the world," Williams said. "In skills and fundamentals, and regular things like passing the ball, we have a lot of catching up to do. But I’m pleased with how we’ve progressed."


The Lady Cats (8-13-2) will take on the Lady Wolverines on Tuesday evening at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, beginning at 6 p.m. The match will be followed at about 8 p.m. by Denison’s boys against Wakeland.


"I think the girls are looking forward to Toyota Stadium," Williams said. "It’s a great opportunity for them. We got a package deal when the U.S. women’s team played Canada there, and they were impressed by it. When they found out we were playing our bi-district match there, they went bananas."


The team has overcome adversity that began even before the season started, with injuries and bad weather hampering any momentum.


The Lady Cats lost senior captain Kelsey Jarvis for 13 games, and at one point had six starters out with injuries.


"Then we had the ice storm," Williams said. "We were out of school for six days, which meant we missed 12 practices before Christmas break."


But the resilient Lady Cats were able to bounce back, and placed third in District 17-4A for the second year in a row.


Last season, in a similar No. 2 vs. No. 3 bi-district matchup against Frisco Liberty, the Lady Cats ran into a buzzsaw. Sherman gave up four goals in the opening 20 minutes, allowed two Liberty players to record hat tricks, and managed only one shot on goal, by Sami Powers in the second half.


"I think (the players) realize they’ve got to play it tight, and got give up silly shots," Williams said. "The teams we’re getting ready to play are dominant possession teams, and we’ve got to control the defense. We’ve got to defend the middle and force everything outside."


This time around, the Lady Cats enter the postseason with a year of experience under their collective belts — and a shot of confidence after beating archrival Denison, 4-0, in a warm-up game at Bearcat Stadium on Friday night.


Paige Aleman opened the scoring from 14 yards out eight minutes in on an assist from captain Madison Craig. Soledad Garcia followed off a nice pass from Veronica Sosa to make it 2-0 in the 27th minute.


Sosa scored in the 44th minute on an assist from Sandra Carrasco-Bueño. Craig closed out the scoring with a shot off a cross from Powers.


"That was an offensive outburst for us," Williams said.


Wakeland (13-6-3) and Sherman have two common opponents: Prosper, which beat the Lady Wolverines 1-0 in an early-season tournament and swept both district meetings over the Lady Cats; and Frisco Lone Star, which beat Sherman 7-0 in the Gainesville tournament but lost twice to Wakeland in district play, 9-0 and 5-3.


Sydney Kingston is Wakeland’s hottest scorer, with six goals in her team’s last five games. Brianna Ellerbe also has recorded six goals in district play.


Williams credits the leadership of his three senior captains — Craig, Jarvis and Powers — for keeping the program headed in the right direction.


"We had a chance to force Prosper into a tiebreaker with McKinney North if we’d been able to score a goal (last Tuesday)," Williams said. "Our captains were aware of the situation. We battled and battled. We didn’t score, but it’s fun to be in the equation."