After 14 years of playing soccer from the youth ranks to various levels of select ball and of course high school action, Stephenville senior Shelbey Stone has a hard time imagining life without the sport.
So instead of wondering what life will be like after soccer, Stone is focused on continuing her career for as many games as possible.
The Honeybees, third place finishers in District 15-4A, open state playoff competition against Mansfield Lake Ridge, the runner-up in 16-4A. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. today at Aledo's Bearcat Stadium. The winner meets Fort Worth South Hills or Fort Worth Polytechnic in the area round later this week.
"We're very excited," Stone said. "We've heard a little about them, and I think we'll be fine if we play the way we can."
The Honeybees have yet to play their best soccer, Stone says. And that's mostly because they don't have many opportunities in the regular season to put their full varsity team on the pitch. With basketball season complete and other scheduling conflicts placed on the back burner during the post season, the Bees finally have a chance to bring together all their weapons.
And there are plenty in their arsenal.
"I'm hoping we peak at the right time, and I think now that we have everyone we can," said Stone. "We know we have subs who can come in and help because there is a lot of talent on our bench. It helps to know you can go all out and if you get tired we have good players who can come in. We don't just look at it like we have 11 starters, we have 15 or 16."
And all will be needed for the Honeybees to earn another area and sectional title and get back to the regional quarterfinals. That's where they were eliminated last season by eventual state champ Denton Guyer.
"I think to beat us it's going to have to come mentally. Athletically, we are just as fast as any team out there. We have several girls who play D1 and select ball at just as high a level as anyone else," Stone said. "Skill-wise, we have everything it takes. We just have to be prepared so we don't get beat mentally."
Because for seniors like Stone, the next defeat will be the last. And the end is something nobody looks forward to.
"It's bittersweet," Stone said. "I'm happy to say I've lived a long soccer career and we want to keep going as long as we can. It's sad to say goodbye to something I've been a part of for 14 years."