Dallas Soccer DFW

Colleyville Heritage girls soccer strategy: Nothing in net

Published 4/14/2011 10:21:14 AM by William Wilkerson from star-telegram

Misail Tsapos views a soccer pitch through a very skilled and defensive-minded eye.  It allowed him to excel as a high school player in New York, where he was a member of the All-Queens soccer team for three years and the All-New York City Senior All-Star team.  It helped him gain All-American status in 1978 at Hardin-Simmons University, where he went on to a successful coaching career for eight years.

Now his philosophical ways have helped the Colleyville Heritage girls advance to this weekend's UIL Class 5A state tournament in Georgetown. The Panthers (21-2-1) will meet Houston Clear Lake (23-2-4) at 11 am Friday.  Tsapos lives by the simple but effective mantra that if the Panthers don't give up a goal, they can't lose. These Panthers haven't just bought into that notion, they've backed it up by not allowing a goal since Jan. 22. Every one of their 21 victories have been shutouts.

"I knew in order for us to win we had to be solid from the back," Tsapos said. "We spent a lot of time on how to pressure, what to pressure, what to force outside, who is going to cover, what to balance, who is going to clean up the mess if there is a mess. For two months that's all we worked on."

Heritage isn't a team that is going to dazzle opponents with its offense. The Panthers have yet to score more than two goals in a playoff game and have combined to score just seven in five games. But that's fine with Tsapos.

"I think we believe that if we score a goal, we are going to win the game," he said.

One of the main reasons for the belief is the presence of 6-foot-1 goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine, who has signed to play at North Texas.

"She is hard to beat in the air," he said. "If you are going to beat her, you are going to really have to beat her. She can really get down low very fast and very well for her height."

There aren't many 6-1 keepers protecting the net in girls soccer, so Kerestine definitely sees her height as an advantage and a bit of an intimidation factor.

"I think it plays a part in my favor because I can reach for the upper shots and tip it over with no problem," she said. "It also intimidates people when they have a 6-foot-1 girl flying at them. They don't know what to do sometimes."

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