BY TJ GARCIA
MISSION – The Sharyland Lady Rattlers soccer team is on a mission.
Last year the Lady Rattlers advanced to the fourth round of the state playoffs where they faced Leander Vista Ridge in the regional semi-final. Sharyland ran roughshod right through Edcouch-Elsa, Flour Bluff and Gregory-Portland to get there.
But to no avail, Sharyland lost to Vista Ridge and it was denied a trip to Region IV final and a chance at state. Fast forward eight months and the Lady Rattlers aren’t feeling sorry for themselves. The senior-laden group is in it to win it and is looking at the upcoming season with steely determination to go further than they ever have before.
“Well we definitely have high expectations as a team but what we really expect as team is to work together and strive to get far in the playoffs,” said senior midfielder Vanessa Guevara, who has already scored 13 goals in Sharyland’s six games before Tuesday. “Especially since it’s my senior year, I feel like I am more ready, and I am just hoping for the best this year.”
One thing is for sure, every other team will be giving Sharyland (4-2, 1-0) their best game. The Lady Rattlers entered the season ranked No. 5 in the Class 5A 2017 Texas Girls Coaches Association preseason soccer poll. Sharyland is thought to be among the region’s best teams along with McAllen High, Los Fresnos and Sharyland Pioneer.
The Lady Rattlers return a bevy of talent in addition to Guevara such as the 2016 All-Area Player of the Year Kaitie Watson, senior goal keeper Kimberlee Cano and many others. Rattlers coach Aaron Clemons said the Rattlers have a rare combination of speed, experience and intelligence that makes this team dangerous.
Although Watson is nursing a leg injury and may not be ready for some time, with her in the lineup along with Guevara and others, the Lady Rattlers feel like they have enough to make another deep run, maybe far enough to the regional final.
“This year we took some losses with some people leaving and some people graduating so we knew we had focus and rebuild our team a little bit,” said Watson, a junior. “We are all supportive of each other, and we have a good amount of seniors on the team so we do it for them. We are working hard.”
Watson, Clemons, Guevara and Cano all agreed that the team has to stay focused for every game in order to reach their goals. They count Sharyland Pioneer as their top rival because it’s their sister school, the players know each other well and Pioneer is also very talented.
“It’s going to definitely take a lot of hard work and communication because if we are not working together, we’re not going to get it done,” said Cano. “I think we’re ready.”