When the UIL announced on April 17 that it was canceling the rest of the spring sports calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was not just the end of Salado star Madison Spradlin’s sterling season.
It was the official end of the senior midfielder’s career. And not the one she — or anyone else — envisioned when the season began.
Spradlin never intended on playing college soccer and won’t when she begins her studies at Mary Hardin-Baylor in the fall. So she had no time to savor her final playing days.
Spradlin’s senior season was supposed to end like her first three at Salado, with her and her teammates battling in the playoffs. Perhaps even earning the program’s second trip to the state tournament.
Instead, it ended retroactively with a 5-1 victory in Lampasas on March 9.
“I kind of wasn’t shocked,” Spradlin said of the UIL decision, “but at the same time, you play a sport your whole life and you wait for your senior year and then it gets cut short. But there’s nothing I can do to change it.”
Helping take a bit of the sting off the disappointment was being named co-MVP of District 27-4A recently. Spradlin shared the honor with Liberty Hill sophomore Emma Stephens.
“It feels very rewarding after our season getting cut short and being a senior and it being the last time I ever play,” Spradlin said. “I’m proud of myself and I’m glad I could finish it off pretty well.”
Spradlin had 12 goals and six assists for the 15th-ranked Lady Eagles, who were 18-5-2 (9-2 27-4A) when the season was suspended beginning March 16. They trailed only second-ranked Liberty Hill in the league standings.
“Madison covered a lot of ground and allowed us to spread the field,” Salado coach Michael Goos said. “Madison has a passion for the game and it’s obvious to see daily in practice and in games.”
Spradlin, the 27-4A Offensive Player of the Year last season, made it clear the MVP honor came with a lot of help.
“That award wouldn’t have been possible without my team and the hard work from every single person,” she said. “I got very lucky to be able to play with such amazing people.”
Four more Salado players also earned major honors on the 27-4A All-District Team. Senior MacKenzie Miller was named offensive MVP. Senior Grace Graham shared the defensive MVP honor. Junior Avery Wright shared the goalkeeper MVP award, and freshman Haley Piatak was the Newcomer MVP.
Miller had eight goals and four assists. She started the season as a midfielder and moved to forward in the middle of the 27-4A season.
“Her versatility and unselfishness allowed us to be a stronger team,” Goos said.
Graham was the district’s defensive player of the year last season. This year she shared the honor with Liberty Hill junior Bryden Bourgeois and Academy sophomore Ella Grace Berg. Graham scored two goals while commanding a defense that recorded 14 shutouts.
“She is our vocal leader and is one of the hardest-working girls on our team,” Goos said.
On the back end of those 14 shutouts was junior Avery Wright, like Graham, a repeat winner. She shared the honor this season with Liberty Hill junior Samantha Carter.
“Avery is a very confident and composed keeper,” Goos said. “She trains very hard and the girls trust her and depend on her often.”
Piatak appears to be the next rising star for Salado. The 14-year-old tallied four goals and four assists in her debut season.
Goos calls her “a very skilled, strong player who gets better every time she steps on the field. We will rely heavily on her the next three years.”
Four other Salado players were selected to the first team: seniors Hannah Reavis and Sam Vargas, and juniors Allison Carnahan and Holly Wright.
“We’re a pretty talented group and we had a lot of potential this year, but unfortunately we can’t show it,” Spradlin said.
Lampasas and Florence each had one player on the first team — senior Winter Mendez for the Lady Badgers, and senior Diana Ramirez for the Lady Buffaloes.
First-year Florence coach Raymond Anderson was named coach of the year, an honor that rarely goes to a team with a losing record. But the Lady Buffaloes’ effort earned the respect of Anderson’s colleagues.
“Coach Anderson at Florence was positive and encouraged his girls to continue to work hard every game and throughout the entire season even when things got tough,” Goos said.
Salado’s Oscar Vargas was named junior varsity coach of the year for the second straight season.
GIRLS ALL-DISTRICT 27-4A TEAM
Co-MVP—Madison Spradlin, sr., Salado; Emma Stephens, so., Liberty Hill.
Offensive MVP—MacKenzie Miller, sr., Salado.
Co-Midfield MVP—Emma Handlos, sr., Jarrell; Phoebe Musasa, jr., Burnet.
Co-Defensive MVP—Grace Graham, sr., Salado; Bryden Bourgeois, jr., Liberty Hill; Ella Grace Berg, so., Academy.
Co-Goalkeeper MVP—Avery Wright, jr., Salado; Samantha Carter, jr., Liberty Hill.
Newcomer MVP—Haley Piatak, fr., Salado.
Freshman MVP—Kaylie Fowler, Liberty Hill.
Coach of the Year—Raymond Anderson, Florence.
Junior Varsity Coach of the Year—Oscar Vargas, Salado.
Liberty Hill—Mykenna Russo, jr.; Abbey Janicek, jr.; Madi Fuller, jr.
Salado—Hannah Reavis, sr.; Sam Vargas, sr.; Allison Carnahan, jr.; Holly Wright, jr.
Burnet—Karissa Killebrew, jr.; Gracyn Benett, jr.; Hailey McHam, jr.
Academy—Kyrstan Edmonds, so., Tyler Safford, jr.
Jarrell—Reyna Sierra, sr.
Lampasas—Winter Mendez, sr.
Florence—Diana Ramirez, sr.
Liberty Hill—Kaylie Flower, jr.; Piper Tabor, Jr.; Samantha Carter, jr.
Salado—Madisyn Maddux, jr.; Anna Lesley, so.; Maria Pauer, so.
Burnet—Lainey Rye, fr.; Caty Crow, so.; Brooke Pulliam, sr.
Academy—Makayla Kelley, fr.; Emma Respondek, jr; Rachel Scott, jr.
Jarrell—Maci Fitzer, sr.; Alyx Burwick, so.; Macy Taber, jr.
Lampasas—Madison Walden, sr.; Sara Engelke, jr.; Cobie Chandler, so.
Florence—Rebecca Block, so.; Victoria Medrano, jr.; Lacey Truble, sr.
(area schools only)
Salado—Presley Maddux, jr.
Lampasas—Keona Cartwright, so.; Rylee Haywood, so.; Rebecca Nobles, fr.
Florence—Chyanne Kraatz, sr.; Quetzal Licea-Urvina, so.