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Sherman taking steps to keep improving

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Sandra Marin and the Lady Bearcats open the season this weekend with a trip to Dallas Hillcrest on Saturday.

There is a little more continuity for the Sherman girls soccer team and after seeing a slight increase in its win total, the program is hoping to take the next step.

More than half of the lineup is back and ready to make the most of whatever time they can have on the field as Sherman opens its season at Dallas Hillcrest on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

“I do believe they can compete. I think our girls go in with that mindset for every game,” Lady Bearcats head coach Chance Hawkins said. “Obviously we want to improve on last year. We have a lot of young players returning. I think we have a good core.”

Hawkins enters his second year leading the program after the Lady Cats went three straight seasons with a new head coach.

Even with another change, the record was hovering around .500 before the district portion of the schedule.

The Lady Bearcats ended last season at 5-15-1 overall and 0-7-1 in 10-5A play with two matches remaining when the coronavirus pandemic shut down and eventually cancelled the rest of the season. It was the third straight season that Sherman was at the bottom of the district standings. The program last made the playoffs in 2014 as part of back-to-back postseason appearances and Sherman’s last season with a winning record was 2017.

But the group improved its win total by a victory and the matches were closer than they had been, a sign of improvement.

“We played quite a few sophomores and freshmen and being able to play another year together can lead to more success,” Hawkins said. “They play well together as a team. We need to keep that improvement going from non-district to district.”

There are some holes to fill across the starting unit, including in the midfield where Sherman lost Bailey Tillotson, who was first-team all-district and tied for the team lead in scoring with eight goals, and Daniella Arroyo. There are two spots open on defense after the graduation of Amy Nevarez, who was second-team all-district, and Jazmyne Aguilar, who was honorable mention all-district, and keeper Kylee Dunbar was honorable mention all-district as a senior.

Up front, the Lady Bearcats do have a lot of experience with the return of senior Lizbeth Sanchez and juniors Brandy Moran and Carmen Ramirez, who was a second-team all-district selection and tied Tillotson with eight goals. Both Sanchez and Moran were honorable mention all-district.

Junior Emma Ford will shift from playing midfield and defense last season and classmate Jade Burns contributed off the bench a year ago. Any of the five could also see some time in the midfield based on how the personnel ultimately fits.

In the midfield, senior Abigail Escobedo is back as well as junior Kaley Wuestenfeld and sophomores C.C. Wilson and Riley Tillotson, who were all honorable mention all-district.

Seniors Abigail Khader will see minutes at several spots once she joins the team following basketball season as another versatile piece on the roster.

“I have a bunch of girls for a bunch of different positions,” Hawkins said.

Senior Sandra Marin converted to defense last year due to injuries and will be one of the few with experience on the back end.

“She did a good job of adapting to that role and earned a spot there,” Hawkins said.

The newcomers on defense are juniors Tonya Gonzalez and Yajayra Reyna-Delgado, freshman Ella Llerenas and seniors Jasmine Antunez, Adriana Silvas and Cara Quinonez Iquique.

“That’s the biggest question mark but I have a lot of confidence in that group,” Hawkins said.

Senior Marigol Lopez is back after splitting time with Dunbar as the Lady Cats keeper. She was honorable mention all-district last spring.

“She’s done a really good job organizing the defense,” Hawkins said.

In addition to competing in tournaments at Mansfield Timberview and Princeton, the Lady Bearcats have a non-district match at Wichita Falls before beginning 10-5A play on Jan. 22.

Sherman remained with the schools it had been with — Denison, McKinney North, Lovejoy, Wylie East and Princeton — while Prosper Rock Hill and The Colony were added to the mix.

Non-district

What: Sherman at Dallas Hillcrest

When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday