SportzBuzz – February 2015
These weren’t exactly your typical road games for the Lamar Texans boys soccer team, which traveled to London, England, and then to Wales for a pair of exhibition matches just before the start of the high school soccer season.
The games were part of a memorable sightseeing tour that had been nearly two years in the making. “It was an incredible experience for our guys,” said head soccer coach Jeremy Davison. “The kids rose to the occasion in every aspect of the trip. They were thrust into the spotlight and represented our school in an extremely professional manner.”
“We felt incredibly fortunate to make the trip,” added team captain Joe Guerra. “It took a lot of dedication and hard work to raise the funds to make it happen. It was a total team-bonding experience.”
Along with seeing historic sites such as Big Ben, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, the Texans attended a Premiere League soccer game between Manchester United and Stoke City FC. “It was amazing for our guys to experience that level of soccer,” said Davison. “These are the greatest players in the world.”
The Texans were treated to a tour of Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. “The stadiums were incredible,” said Guerra. “Manchester United was both massive and historic. It’s hard to find that kind of combination here in the United States.”
“We were in the cathedrals of the players our kids idolize. We walked through the very same tunnels and locker rooms where soccer’s all-time greats had made their mark over the last century. You could almost feel the aura of the teams that had come through those tunnels,” added Davison.
As for the Texans’ two exhibition matches, the team first dropped a 7-1 decision to a prep-school team in London, but then defeated New Town FC out of Wales by a 5-0 decision. Kaleb Sampson, Elmer Rivera, Robert Rodriguez and Guerra all scored goals in the win, while Sergio Gonzales added a pair of assists. “The game versus New Town was special,” said Davison. “We played the match on a field tucked in the hills of Wales, which was really awesome.”
Much closer to home, the Bellaire girls soccer team kicked off its season with an impressive showing at the Woodlands soccer tournament, highlighted by a victory and a tie over Oak Ridge and College Park, respectively. “This is definitely the most talented team we’ve had in my five seasons at Bellaire,” said Cardinals head coach Alan Thompson.
The talented lineup includes an especially strong senior class, led by returning District 20-5A Player of the Year Clare O’Gara. Also, senior Mackenzie Ward is a three-year varsity player, while fellow senior Heidi Vargas leads the team in scoring. Rounding out the standout senior class are Maia Rice, Devyn Polidore, Kelly Jackson, Natasha Schepps and Lindsey Bengue.
The Cardinals are also the clear-cut favorite to defend their district title after not allowing a single goal en route to winning last year’s District 20-5A championship. “We definitely have our sights set on defending the title, but we also want to advance in the post-season playoffs,” said Thompson. “These girls are very committed to achieving their goals, and they’re also the hardest working team I’ve seen in my nine seasons as a high school soccer coach.”
In basketball, the girls from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart are putting forth what could be the best season in school history. Following a big district win over St. Pius, Duchesne raised its record to 13-4 on the season. The victory total included notable wins over the likes of Episcopal, Lamar and perennial power Wheatley, as well as a strong semifinal showing at the Houston Christian tournament.
Duchesne is led by a trio of underclassmen in sophomores Lilli Bean and Ilya Babineaux as well as junior Gaby Castillo. A 6-foot, 3-inch center, Babineaux is averaging in the double figures in both scoring and rebounding while Bean averages 10 points and five assists a game. Meanwhile, Castillo is the team’s leading scorer, even averaging 20 points a game over a memorable six-game stretch.
“It’s a really talented group,” said Duchesne Academy athletic director Robert Bagley. “We start four sophomores and one junior, so the future is also pretty exciting for this team.”
Editor’s Note: Todd Freed is the Emmy Award-winning co-host and producer of the KUBE SportsZone, which airs Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. on Channel 57-KUBE. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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