Magnolia has created a strong tradition of success under coach April Cleveland, who is looking to lead the Lady Bulldogs back to the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.
Qualifying for the playoffs is never the only goal for the program, however. Magnolia has expectations of advancing and making some noise in the Class 5A bracket. The Lady Bulldogs advanced to at least the area round every year from 2012 to 2016. The past three seasons have ended with an early exit, but Cleveland is optimistic about her team this spring.
“The last couple of years, we’ve made it to playoffs and then we fell short in the first games,” she said. “Every year, our first goal is to, of course, get to the playoffs, and then after that, it’s to win the first round.”
The Lady Bulldogs earned the No. 2 seed out of District 19-5A last season, narrowly finishing behind league champion College Station. Magnolia drew a tough matchup in the bi-district playoffs, however, with Montgomery paying a visit. The Lady Bulldogs fought valiantly in the opening round, but ultimately fell 2-1 in overtime on their home turf.
The team finished the season with a 15-4-4 overall record.
Magnolia graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team, including some key pieces that will be difficult to replace. Erin Mooneyham was the district’s Co-Midfielder of the Year, and forwards Izzy Cardenas and Surya Nero accounted for a large percentage of the team’s goals. All three of those players were All-Montgomery County selections for their efforts.
Despite the turnover, Cleveland believes her roster is still ripe with talent. The Lady Bulldogs will be young, however.
“We’re young, but they’re excited, and they’re motivated,” Cleveland said. “They come out to practice and work hard every day, and honestly, they don’t know what to expect.”
Defense will be a strength for the team with Taylor Sanderson returning at goalkeeper. Sanderson was an All-District 19-5A honorable mention selection last season and should provide some stability and leadership on the field.
Also returning are defenders Skylar Replogle and Katie Clark. Replogle broke onto the scene as a freshman last year and earned first-team All-Montgomery County honors. Clark also had a strong campaign as a second-team all-district pick. Tate Perugini, who also plays basketball, is expected to contribute as well. The rest of the lineup will be relatively new.
Magnolia will have its work cut out in District 19-5A this season as it takes on College Station, A&M Consolidated, Katy Paetow, Brenham, Bryan Rudder, Waller and crosstown rival Magnolia West.
“I feel like our district is pretty strong on the women’s side of soccer,” Cleveland said. “You have powerhouse College Station, powerhouse A&M Consolidated... Click here to read full article