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Fri., Feb. 2nd, 2007  Lee, MHS girls soccer teams headed in opposite directions as league season starts
Derek Weinbrenner
Midland Reporter-Telegram

While the young Lee girls have grown up quickly and put together a solid preseason, the Midland High girls have suffered setback after setback, leaving the two squads moving in opposite directions. The latest tragedy for the Lady Bulldogs (2-4-1) is the loss of senior Cayla Buss. Coach Scott Hodkinson had originally thought she had torn her meniscus on one of her knees in a scrimmage against Lubbock Coronado earlier this season. It turns out that it is the third anterior cruciate tear of the season for MHS. Buss will miss the rest of the season while Hodkinson is holding out hope that seniors Jessi Ray Montez and Elizabeth Merritt will return in time for the playoffs. "When we scrimmage and someone goes down, we all gasp and hope it's not serious," Hodkinson said. "This year has been terrible. The last few seasons, we've been healthy, maybe we're making up for it."

In stark contrast, Lee coach Amanda Melchor said she is pleased with her inexperienced team and looking for even more ways to up the scoring totals of a 4-1-1 team. The Lady Rebels have hung tough so far, winning three games by one goal. Their only loss came to Katy Taylor, 2-1, last weekend. "They definitely have the potential. That's something I'm still trying to feed to the girls that we're an offensive-minded team," Melchor said. "Defensively, I've been pleased with their ability to be coached. It's a brand-new defense for me as far as personnel." Lee has traditionally had a strong defense, so it comes as no surprise that its goalies, sophomore Victoria Ramirez and freshman Katie Stewart, have combined to allow five goals in six games. Melchor said she is comfortable continuing to split time in goal throughout district play.

Midland High has always been able to score, but Hodkinson will tweak his philosophy when MHS opens against defending district champion Odessa Permian on Saturday. He will move a midfielder back into the defense.
"It's semantics. Sometimes it can be real important to the girls," he said. "That's from the goals that we've given up, but we have given up some that I would call sloppy goals where there wasn't good marking. Plus, we're going up against Permian and I think they see Permian as the strongest team in district." Goalkeeper Erika Taylor is still out with a should injury and Sarah Corbitt has done an admirable job in taking on the job full-time. Corbitt shut out Keller at the Lady Dragon Invitational on Jan. 12 and Wichita Falls Rider last weekend at the Birdville Tournament. But the Lady Bulldogs fell to Keller 2-1 in a rematch the next game.

"They may be a little shaken after that Keller game. It was a big win against Rider before that. I was somewhat afraid of a letdown against Keller," Hodkinson said. "I gave them a speech about overconfidence before the game. That was a great lesson to learn going into district."

The district schedule highlights the two directions MHS and Lee are heading. MHS opens District 3-5A play against the defending district champ at noon on Saturday here in Midland. In Odessa's Ratliff Stadium at the same time, Lee plays at Odessa High, a 1-11 district team from a year ago.

Lee has experienced success early on, but Melchor is striving for even better results.

"Something's definitely going to have to be different than last year (in order to win the district title)," Melchor said. "And I think that thing is we have to score more goals and be more offensive."
If a healthy Midland High offense could play alongside the Lee defense, it just could be the perfect team to win the title.