This year’s Guyer girls soccer squad accomplished a lot on their way to winning the Class 4A state championship, most notably ending state powerhouse and defending champion Highland Park’s 49-game unbeaten streak in the championship game.
Now, the program has more to add to its list of honors and accolades as the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches released its all-state teams late last week with four Lady Wildcats landing on the first and second teams.
Junior forward/midfielder Hannah Alspach, who was named the MVP of Guyer’s 2-1 win over Highland Park, was named to the Class 4A all-state first team, where she was joined by senior defender Megan Stokes. Sophomore forward Brittany Crabtree, who led Guyer with 40 goals in 2013, was named to the second team and joined by junior midfielder Kaitlyn Caro.
One interesting twist to Guyer’s represention on the team was the fact that the four players were Guyer’s four team captains throughout the season, something in which head coach Kenny Blevins said he takes a lot of pride.
“I don’t think there’s any way they could’ve known that when choosing the team,” Blevins said. “Those kids understand responsibility. Kids have a hard time taking responsibility, saying, ‘Hey this is my team,’ and once they begin to do that and see what they do is a reflection of them, not the coach, that’s when you start having success.
“I look at my teams in the past, and if we have good leadership, we’ll have a great season. If we have rotten leadership, our season won’t go well. That’s how I run my program, and it’s kind of risky if you get some leadership that’s questionable. It’s the thing that makes it special and different. It takes a special player to understand the responsibility that I’m giving them.”
Alspach and Crabtree formed a dynamic duo atop Guyer’s formation throughout the year and played a big part in the Lady Wildcats’ success and their 28-1 record with an unbeaten record in District 11-4A play.
The two combined to score 64 goals, each scoring in the state championship victory, while combining for 31 assists, led by Alspach’s team-leading 18. Caro, the team’s corner-kick taker and long throw-in specialist, was second on the team with 17 assists and added five goals, and Stokes was a rock in a solid back line of defenders while adding three goals and seven assists.
In the postseason alone, Alspach racked up eight goals and nine assists, while Crabtree scored 11 goals and had an assist.
Blevins said the duo is a rare luxury for a coach to have at the high school level, with each player fulfilling their specific roles over an extended period of time.
“She’s your classic target player,” Blevins said of Crabtree. “A player a team can look to play a ball to from back in the back, and Alspach is the classic play-making forward that has a lot of give-and-goes with that target player. They were a classic combination. Great teams usually have a target player and a play-making player. That’s exactly what they did. They worked off each other.
“I’ve always got a version of that but never one as gifted or talented as those two. I can easily say that. Sometimes one of those players is great and in place, but to have two at such a high level is just a blessing.”
With the four players getting the type of recognition they’ve received this year, Blevins said the future of his program is looking bright — not only because all but Stokes will return next season, but because the youth players in the area now have something to watch and strive for in their hometown.
“It’s put a buzz in the soccer community around here, with the young girls that are eventually going to come to Guyer,” Blevins said. “The first kids I worked with [in youth coaching] when I started here at Guyer are still two years from being here. But there’s a big buzz with the young kids to be like Hannah or Brittany or Caro or Stokes.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.