It’s been 19 years since the Ellison Lady Eagles soccer team has been to the playoffs.
And for current head coach Matthew Watt and team captain Alyssa Conde, that’s long enough.
“We know we can put ourselves in the driver’s seat toward getting that playoff spot with a win against Harker Heights,” Watt said.
Ellison travels to Harker Heights on Tuesday. Both teams are 5-4 in District 8-5A, tied for fourth place. The top four teams earn playoff berths.
“It’s very important to all of us to get in the playoffs,” said Conde, a senior. “That game against Harker Heights is very important. If we can win it, it gets us that much closer to the playoffs.”
At 7 tonight, Ellison hosts first-place and perennial-power Belton (8-1). The two teams met earlier in the season and Belton prevailed 7-0.
“We’ll go into this game with a positive attitude,” Conde said. “Belton is always on top. We’re looking at this contest as a game that can help us improve. It would obviously be something very special if we could beat them. But, no matter what, we’re looking to try and play quick like they do and be able to compete with them. We’ll be trying to make quicker decisions, play faster.”
Watt concurred that just playing Belton — win or lose — will be beneficial to his squad.
“Belton teaches us a lot when we play them,” he said. “We want to be a tough out to them. We want to make them work for everything. We want to be competitive.”
To be competitive with Belton, Watt is banking heavily on Conde, his star player, center-forward and leading goal-scorer.
“Alyssa Conde is our catalyst,” Watt said. “She’s our team leader and she has been so impressive this year. The connection she has with (freshman center-midfielder) Lulu Moreno is incredible. To see a senior and a freshman have so much fun together on the field is great. They get so excited when they assist on each other’s goals.”
Watt mentioned junior keeper Ashley Street and senior center-fullback Brooke Guerrero as two other key players who can help Ellison stay competitive with Belton.
“The last time we played Belton, Ashley Street had a knee injury,” Watt said. “Now, she’s healed and she is playing great soccer. And Brooke has been making so many big plays for us. Brooke fixes us. She’s talking constantly to keep us organized.
“Overall, I think all of our girls are excited for the challenge of playing Belton.”