Wakeland girls look for a repeat with new style

It seems like the same old story for the Frisco Wakeland girls soccer team.

Wakeland enters the 4A state playoffs a favorite to bring gold medals back to soccer-crazy Frisco, just as it did last season.

But Wakeland head coach Meagan Wilson sees this season much differently than the team's 2011 drive to the state championship.

“They’re night and day different seasons,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of crazy if you compare the two different teams. They are 180 degrees different from each other. I’m very proud of this team for coming out and creating their own identity.”

Wakeland rolls into the playoffs undefeated at 19-0-4, as opposed to last season's club that entered postseason play with two losses.

But Wison has a much younger team to manage this go-around, with a much larger number of freshmen contributing than last year’s squad.

Wilson should have seven seniors returning from last year’s state title team to ride through another playoff run, but three have been hurt for the majority of the season, including last year’s championship game MVP Katey Carmichael. Carmichael was just released to play again right before the playoffs begin, which will add one of the area’s top forwards back into the mix.

“We’re getting her back right at the right time,” Wilson said.

Wakeland will have one of the toughest roads back to the state tournament, coming out of a stacked area of Region II.

First on the docket is Little Elm at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Frisco Lone Star. If Wakeland advances, they could face Richardson J.J. Pearce in the area round and then either McKinney North or Highland Park in the sectional round.

“It’s going to be unbelievably hard this year,” Wilson said. “To be honest, it’s a shame because you have potentially four or five teams coming out of that one bracket that should probably be in the state tournament, and unfortunately we’re all going to eliminate each other.”

On the boys side, West Mesquite has hopes it can carry momentum from winning District 15-4A for the first time in school history into the playoffs for a run like they made in 2009.

“I’m hearing some really good things about this squad,” Frisco Wakeland head coach Rusty Oglesby said. “This is West Mesquite's year to come out of that district.”

However, it’s the area round matchup -- West Mesquite's first game after a bye -- that has coach Alex Figert most concerned.

“I’m not overlooking either Rockwall or Molina,” Figert said. “Both of them scare the dog out of me. I’m unhappy with our draw. I did not like our draw whatsoever, but it’s playoff time and every team in the playoffs are going to scare you.”

If West Mesquite can make it past that area round match between the winner of Rockwall and Dallas Molina, it could be on course to top the 2009 playoff trip that went three rounds, without fear of facing one of the Frisco schools or McKinney until the regional quarterfinal round.

The Frisco schools battled it out throughout district play, with only eight points separating the district champion, Frisco Heritage, from the fourth and final seed, Wakeland, and Oglesby said those in the soccer circles in Frisco expect one of the four Frisco teams to use the playoff-like experience they faced through district play to advance to the state tournament.

“We think that there’s going to be a Frisco school, we hope, in that regional tournament,” Oglesby said. “I think any of the four teams from our district can make it to that regional tournament if we take care of business in these first rounds.”

Wakeland opens its postseason against district champion McKinney at 7:15 p.m. on Friday at Plano’s Clark Stadium.