Team of the Week: Celina Girls’ Soccer

Celina High School Bobcats girls' soccer team
Celina High School Bobcats girls' soccer team | Image by Tom Maglisceau/Twitter

The Celina High School Bobcats girls’ soccer team is The Dallas Express Team of the Week after winning its third straight 4A state championship earlier this week.

The Bobcats defeated Boerne High School 1-0 in a hard-fought defensive battle to secure the threepeat and join Plano West (1999-2002) as the only girls’ soccer program in state history to win three consecutive state championships.

“For this to actually come to fruition, it was amazing,” head coach Alexander Adams told The Dallas Express. “At the beginning of the season, we performed like a team that was reloading. Everybody was learning everybody’s nuances and how everybody plays, and we took our bumps and bruises. As we started getting a little bit further in the season, I just started realizing we’re starting to really get cooking. Heck, even in the preseason, when we were playing some of the tougher teams on our schedule, we were doing okay. And I thought, ‘We’ve got the pieces here. We’ve just got to start developing the chemistry.'”

Grapevine High School, the 2023 5A state champion, was the only team to beat the Bobcats this season. Prosper Walnut Grove and Frisco Panther Creek earned ties early in the season, but Celina developed the chemistry and continued to assert its dominance despite having to alter from an offensively oriented attack in recent seasons to a defensively driven approach in 2023.

The Bobcats came away with plenty of wins by at least five goals and outscored their six playoff opponents 21-2.

“I knew that we needed to diversify the offense,” Adams explained. “As the season was progressing, we weren’t scoring as many goals as I’d like. I thought, ‘Well, it’s going to be a different kind of year this year where we’re going to have to hold on defensively and make sure to capitalize on our chances.'”

“We got really good with set pieces, and that kind of helped trigger the offense a little bit, and we knew that we had a heck of a defense and that people were going to have a hard time scoring against us,” he added.

In the championship game, they used a second-half play to notch the match’s only tally as junior Grace Pritchard pushed a header past the Boerne goalie.

“At halftime I was dreaming of getting a header goal, no joke,” Pritchard told The Dallas Morning News. “I was like, ‘I’m going to get this header in.’ Ryleigh [Stifflemire] hit the ball, Brookelyn [Babb] hit it off her head, and I was like, this is my chance.”

Adams knew state championships would eventually be possible when he took over in 2021, but he never could’ve imagined three titles in his first three years.

“I definitely thought that there was going to be some chances to have some really good years just because of the pedigree that was here,” he told The Dallas Express. “The program has always been pretty good almost from their first year, and to have inherited a team that just went to the state semifinals, I knew that they were going to be good, and I knew that there was going to be a chance to go out and win state while I was here.”

“But every year so far, that’s just kind of unrealistic to have that expectation,” Adams continued. “You go into this job thinking that we’re going to have a solid crew, and we’re going to go out and give it our best every year, and so far, our best has been to be the last one standing the last three years.”

The Bobcats will now turn to the offseason and have an excellent opportunity to become the first program to win four titles in a row. Only four seniors depart from this year’s squad, and they will continue to play at the 4A level next season.

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