The 2013 soccer season kicks off this weekend, and the Pine Tree girls host a four-team tournament involving a trio of East Texas schools.

Pine Tree coach Daniel Rich anticipates a quality field will provide a good litmus test for the respective teams. Nacogdoches, Whitehouse, and Corsicana join the Lady Pirates in the event.

"All four teams were teams that went at least two rounds deep in the playoffs last year," said Rich, who is entering his 11th season as the Lady Pirates' head coach. "Both Nacogdoches and Whitehouse have been district champions almost every year in their districts for the last four years. I try to invite teams at the 4A level that will be in the playoffs in their districts. It will be a good tournament for all four teams to see where they are at the beginning of the year because no one will be overly dominating."

Pine Tree had a Tuesday scrimmage at Longview cancelled because of rain, but Rich believes the prior four scrimmages have PT prepared for the season-opening tournament. If anything, the cancellation allowed for a couple of extra days of rest.

Pine Tree returns a wealth of experienced talent for the 2013 campaign. The No. 1 goal scorer and assist leader in school history is back in Amanda Wallin, who had 42 goals and 23 assists as a junior. Wallin enters the season with 95 career goals -- 11 more than the next-leading scorer in PT history -- and 61 assists, which is seven more than the No. 2 spot.

Fellow seniors Amanda Cabrera and Emily Shelton join Wallin as captains. Cabrera accumulated eight goals and 10 assists last season, while Shelton established herself as a reliable defender after moving from forward, which she played as a sophomore.

"We are returning 10 key players from last year. These players played a big role in our success in 2012, so my hope is that we can just build from last year and go further," said Rich, who has a 188-49-23 record with PT. "From the high-powered offense in Amanda Wallin and Amanda Cabrera to the solid play of goalies Kaiti Lawrence and Brittany Hollis, and defenders Emily Shelton and Becca Schwartz, these seniors know what it takes to be the best and I expect them to lead us to the regional tournament and possibly beyond."

Pine Tree went 21-4-1 in 2012, reaching the Class 4A Region II semifinals, where the Lady Pirates fell 3-1 to eventual state champion Highland Park.

"Right now we are working on the little things that seperate the good teams from the great teams," Rich said. "Those little things are knowing where to be on the field at all times, placing youself in better positions to receive and distribute the ball. We also are focusing on how to be physically and mentally tough. Working on fitness is always key at the beginning of the year."

Lady Pirate Tournament
Varsity Schedule

(Cumulative point system determines winner)

Thursday

  • 10:30 a.m. -- Nacogdoches vs. Pine Tree
  • 3 p.m. -- Corsicana vs. Nacogdoches

 

Friday

  • 10:30 a.m. -- Whitehouse vs. Nacogdoches
  • 2:30 p.m. -- Whitehouse vs. Corsicana
  • 7 p.m. -- Pine Tree vs. Corsicana

 

Saturday

  • 11:30 a.m. -- Pine Tree vs. Whitehouse