The state-ranked Stephenville High School boys soccer team, coming off a victory over a higher-ranked school, on Friday will begin its quest for a third consecutive championship in the 19th annual Stephenville Knights of Columbus Challenge of Champions tournament.
Meanwhile, the SHS girls will be shooting for their second consecutive Challenge of Champions title.
The two-day tournament will be played at the Stephenville Soccer Association complex. Saturday’s boys and girls championship games are set for 3:30 p.m. There are 12 teams in the girls tournament and six on the boys side.
On Monday, coach Taylor Smith’s Yellow Jackets improved to 2-1-2 with a 2-1 victory over Liberty Hill. The Jackets entered that game as the 15th-best Class 4A boys team in the state in the MaxPreps rankings, while Liberty Hill was No. 11.
In boys pool play here Friday, the Stephenville boys will open at 10 a.m. versus Waco University High School’s junior varsity.
In the girls pool play, Stephenville’s No. 1-ranked Honeybees also will have their first game at 10 a.m. Friday. They will be taking on Waco La Vega.
“There are some good (Class) 5A teams in the tournament and we will have to maximize our opportunities but I believe we have the talent to win it all again,” Smith stated.
Coach Casey Weil’s Honeybees are 4-0, fresh off a tournament championship run in the Hill Country Winter Classic Champions tournament in Fredericksburg. They are seeking their second straight Challenge of Champions tournament title, after winning in 2019 and finishing third in 2018.
The goals scored by the SHS boys in the Liberty Hill contest were by Jorge Gallegos and J.J. Saldana. The Jackets never trailed, scoring first about halfway through the first half and again with 30 seconds to go to take a 2-0 halftime lead. Liberty Hill’s lone goal came in the second half.
“We played well,” Smith noted. “We are young but starting to figure it out. We have tons of potential, just have to find ourselves and our identity. We are going to be a force but will have growing pains early.”