The Stephenville High School girls soccer program first made history two years ago when the Honeybees won the school’s first-ever state championship in that sport.
After their exit from last year’s playoffs, the 2019 Honeybees became harder workers, more focused, more mature and also became what head coach Casey Weil called “relentless.”
Then they became … champs again.
Weil guided the Bees to a 25-1-2 season record, defeating Liberty Hill (24-4-2) for the Class 4A girls state title, 2-0, on April 18 in Georgetown. SHS eliminated 23-4-2 Lumberton 5-1 the day before, in the semifinal round of the four-team state tournament. Liberty Hill, which was a state semifinalist in 2018, advanced to the state final by edging previously unbeaten Melissa (21-1-2), 2-1 in the other semifinal.
In the state championship game, Ciara Johnston scored both goals, on headers off assists from Haleigh Beam. Against Lumberton, Claire Choate scored twice while Johnston, Bales and Abby Harrison got one goal apiece.
Beam and Johnston, along with teammates Beatris Chavarria and Courtney Langley, were named to the 4A girls all-state tournament team. Johnston was voted as the Most Valuable Player in the girls Class 4A tournament.
Liberty Hill’s loss in the 2018 state semifinals was to Midlothian Heritage, the same team that had eliminated Stephenville by a 2-1 margin in the regional semifinals — ending the Bees’ hopes of winning back-to-back crowns.
At the time of that playoff loss a year ago, Heritage was ranked third in the state and SHS was fifth. Heritage proved its strength by going on to win the 2018 state championship.
The Bees had been hampered for most of the second half of their loss to Heritage when they lost both Johnston and Brinkley Harlow to injuries in what was a physically rough regional semifinal clash. The Bees had led 1-0 before the two key players were knocked out of that game.
Both of the Honeybee state championship teams were coached by Casey Weil, who said after the championship game that his coaching radar had detected something different about his 2019 Honeybees.
“I knew they were hungry,” said Weil, who was assisted by coaches Katie Fulton and Amy Schrutka. “I could tell at the beginning of the year they were different. They’re all coachable and they’re all a blessing, and I thank them for that.”
The Honeybees were a dominant force for most of 2019 and were ranked No. 1 the 4A state polls for most of the season, before their only loss — to Brownwood in district play — bumped them off the top perch.
The 2019 SHS girls set a new girls soccer school record for scoring in a season, finishing with 154 points (an average of 5.5 goals per game). They scored 10 goals in a single game four times, and 12 once.
The defense wasn’t half bad, either, featuring starting goal keeper Madison Wyly working in combination with the others on the defensive end. In fact, the Bees smothered many of their foes, posting shutouts in 19 of their 25 wins. The 12 goals they allowed this season was only four more than the eight the 2017 championship team gave up.
Johnston led the Honeybees in scoring for the second year in a row, with 58 goals. Johnston also had the most assists this year, with 28 — just two ahead of Beam. Bales was second this season in scoring, with 30 goals.
TALENT ON TAP
The state title game against Liberty Hill was the ideal way to end the high school soccer careers for 10 SHS senior players — Alyssa Northcutt, Reagan Henry, Jasmene DeLaCerda, Jade Pepau, Cody Hawks, Madelyn Heupel, Emily Kirbo, Alex Cameron, Victoria Monrreal and Hailey Contreras.
The Bees won the 2017 state title with a 25-4 season mark and an extraordinary number of freshmen playing key roles. They included Beatris Chavarria, Claire Choate, Madison Wyly, Haleigh Beam, Courtney Langley, Brinkley Harlow, Jimena Espinoza, Ciara Johnston, Gracie Bales, Daisy Richards and Bailie Atchley.
Chavarria, Beam and Johnston were named to the all-state tournament team in 2017, along with former Honeybee Savannah Alford, who was that year's tournament MVP.
Another underclassman who played a key role for SHS and is expected to return is sophomore Abby Harrison, an off-season move-in from California who proved to be one of the most dangerous scorers for the Bees in the playoffs.
Others on this year's varsity roster included juniors Cheney Carrillo and Autumn Seemann; sophomore Ella Brown; and freshmen Katheryn Cameron, Brooklyn Langford, Madisyn Cole, Bella Diaz and Shawna Morrow.
Weil, asked to look ahead to next season after the Bees captured the 2091 title, said, “We’ve got a bunch of good ones back.”
Johnston, one of multiple lettermen who will return next season, with several as three-year starters, is appropriately optimistic about the possibility next season of winning three state championships in four years.
“We’ve just got to do the same things and keep on keeping on,” she said with a confident smile.