Frisco Wakeland, Celina sending boys and girls soccer teams to state for second consecutive season

The chance of both the boys and girls soccer teams from one school navigating their way to the UIL state soccer tournament in the same season might seem unlikely.

Yet for the second consecutive season Frisco Wakeland and Celina, schools located 17 miles apart along the Collin- and Denton-county line, will be represented this week in the boys and girls divisions of the UIL state final four.

For Class 5A Wakeland, it is a scenario that is almost becoming routine. It happened for the first time in 2018 when both the boys and girls went on to capture the ultimate prize of a state title.

In 2021, the Wakeland boys won their fourth state title by defeating Humble Kingwood Park 3-2 in the final while the Lady Wolverines fell short in a 2-1 loss to Dripping Springs in their title match.

Celina had never made it to the state final four until last season. Eventual state champion Midlothian Heritage edged the Celina girls 1-0 in a Class 4A state semifinal. The Celina boys met a similar fate in their semifinal, falling to Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis 4-2. Both teams are eager to make amendments.

The Celina girls (27-1-1), led by Texas Tech signee Taylor Zdrojewski (59 goals) will play in the state tournament’s opening match against Boerne (20-3-5) set for 11 am Wednesday at Georgetown’s Birkelbach Field. Zdrojewski was SportsDay’s girls Player of the Year in 2021 when she broke the state record with 114 goals.

In the playoffs thus far, Celina has outscored opponents 37-1.

“The bottom line is that we have kids here in Celina that are the hardest workers out there who really care about their success in sports here at the school and show it with their dedication to their craft,” said first-year girls coach Alexander Adams. “These kids are the reason why it’s a great time to be a Bobcat.”

The Celina boys (21-3-1) will face Stephenville (21-3-1) in a 6:30 pm Wednesday semifinal. The playoff run has produced a series of tense, hard-fought victories. Celina rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat North Dallas in the second round and scored twice on goals by Seth Brown in overtime to topple Nevada Community in the regional final.

“Celina athletes are very special,” said boys coach Cody Moles. “Our kids are hard workers and want to constantly be challenged. When they are challenged, they have shown the ability to come together and rise up as a team and be victorious.”

Adams credits Celina athletic director and football coach Bill Elliott for “instilling a winning culture that trickles down to all programs.”

The 4A girls final is set for 2:30 pm Thursday and the boys title match at 2:30 pm Friday.

In four of the soccer playoffs’ five rounds thus far, it was worked out that Frisco Wakeland’s boys and girls teams have played in same-site doubleheaders, a trend both would like to continue through Saturday’s title matches.

Typically, the boys’ team bus arrives early to allow the players to cheer on the girls. The girls stay late to root on the boys.

“There is a little bit of a competition,” said Wakeland girls coach Jimmie Lankford. “Neither team wants to go out before the other.”

It will be a long wait for Wakeland between state semifinal matches in Georgetown on Thursday. The Wakeland girls (21-1-4) meet Magnolia (24-1-2) in the 9:30 am opener and the Wolverine boys (22-4-1) face Fort Worth Trimble Tech (23-3-3) in the final match of the day at 7:30 pm

The 5A championship matches will be on Saturday – 11 am for the girls and 1:30 pm for the boys.

The run of success now extends to over a decade for Wakeland, a school that opened in 2006. The boys won their first state title in 2010 and the girls followed with their first championship a year later. The girls are in the state tournament for the fourth time and it will be the eighth appearance for the boys.

“Some of it is peaking at the right time,” said Lankford. “Our kids buy into the system. We try to focus on the little things in practice every day. Mainly we have good kids that work harder.”

While at some high schools top-level players forego school soccer to play at the club level, that does not seem to be an issue at Wakeland as boys head coach Andy Holt has pointed out: “There is a sense of pride that goes into playing for your school, and these kids understand that and work hard to represent Wakeland. We have great soccer players and great character kids.”

Brennan Bezdek, SportsDay’s boys Player of the Year last season, leads the attack for Wakeland which has won 12 consecutive playoff matches.

Wakeland’s girls have played suffocating defense, allowing only one goal in five playoff matches. Keeper Drew Stover is a Wisconsin signee.

doubling up

Schools that have qualified boys and girls teams to the UIL state soccer final four in the same season since 2014 when a third playoff division was added:

Year Class 6A Class 5A Class 4A
2022 N/A Frisco Wakeland Celina, Boerne
2021 N/A Frisco Wakeland Celina
2018 N/A Frisco Wakeland N/A
2016 Katy Cinco Ranch Frisco Wakeland kilgore
2015 Katy Cinco Ranch N/A N/A

Find more high school sports coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

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