Stephenville High School’s defending state soccer champion Honeybees avenged their only District 6-4A loss from last season with an overwhelming 9-0 victory over Brownwood Friday at Lem Brock Field.
The leading scorer for the SHS girls, four-year starting senior Ciara Johnston, turned in a career-high six goals to pace the Honeybees on offense. Abby Harrison, Tori Cameron and Gracie Bales scored the other three goals for the Bees.
“It feels really good to put it on them,” said senior starter Haleigh Beam.
The SHS girls, who improved to 15-1-1 on the season, are ranked No. 4 in the state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.
Stephenville was playing without two starters — Claire Choate and Beatris Chavarria — with both out of town for separate events. Goal keeper Madison Wyly is still sidelined with a broken finger, with Shawna Morrow recording another shutout in goal.
The Honeybees lost one district game last season, to Brownwood, but went on to capture their second Class 4A state soccer championship in three years. The blowout win was even more satisfying against a longtime rival like Brownwood, with that memory from a year ago in the back of their minds.
“For sure,” said senior Jimena Espinoza, who had an assist on Cameron’s goal. “So we always go hard against them. We had to come back strong. Against Mineral Wells (a 3-1 win on the road the previous Friday), we didn’t do our best.”
Bales, who scored on a free kick, recorded assists on three of Johnston’s goals. Harrison had one assist, as did Haley Lopez and Cameron. There was no assist on Harrison’s goal.
Weil said that he didn’t discuss any revenge factor against Brownwood before the game.
“No, we really didn’t. We needed a breakout game,” Weil said. “We’ve played well, created chances, created opportunities, and the ball just wouldn’t go in the net for us. We’ve just kind of been snake bitten.”
But Weil said that the girls not only likely had that loss on their minds, but also that there may have been an unspoken message in notchting the nine-goal victory.
“For these girls, absolutely,” he said. “You beat them 9-0, it makes the next two times you play them a little easier. I felt we played soccer the right way. Kind of doing that, send a message to some other people and just let them know we’re back and we’re here and we’re the same team we have been.”
Weil said that he made an adjustment he had never before tried with the Honeybees, playing with three forwards instead of two.
“I told them we’re going to do something a little different tonight. I said, we’re going to play with three forwards, we’re going to throw a lot of pressure on them up front, see if we can’t score some more goals than normal. And I think it worked. I think we may have found something new that we may try. We worked on it this week.
“With the way that these girls play, you know, a good soccer player can play anywhere on the field so we can move girls around and be successful. They did very well adapting.”
Two of Johnston’s goals came in the first half, when the Bees built a 4-0 lead. After intermission, Bales opened the scoring with 38:04 left in the second half, Johnston recorded four consecutive goals, with the final one coming at the 6:27 mark.
The Honeybees’ next contest was scheduled to be at home Tuesday (Feb. 25), against Mineral Wells (varsity girls at 5 p.m.). The soccer district includes only three schools — SHS, Brownwood and Mineral Wells — and all three will qualify for the playoffs.