Before the Scarborough Lady Spartans soccer team took the field against the West Columbia Roughnecks in the UIL 4A-Region III bidistrict round Mar. 31, they had already accomplished a feat that had never been achieved before in the program’s past.
“This year was our first year winning a playoff game, like in all of Scarborough history,” said fourth year head coach Jhalyssa Williams.
And the Lady Spartans didn’t just win their first playoff game in school history in mundane fashion, either. They dominated their first-round opponent with a masterfully orchestrated offensive blitzkrieg, racking up 11 goals and earning the shutout over Hempstead High School.
The game resembled many of Scarborough’s regular season matchups, especially their district schedule, where they outscored their opposition by a 73-1 margin. That sole goal was scored by Kashmere High School in a 4-1 losing effort. The Lady Spartans came back a month later and held Kashmere to zero points, while amassing eight of their own.
Scarborough’s only loss of the regular season came when they faced Westside High School, but they were able to run the table against the rest of their schedule and claimed the 4A-District 21 title. The Lady Spartans went on to lose a hard-fought battle against Columbia after their first-round victory over Hempstead.
While it was a crushing blow for a team that had played so well all season, they were able to take pride in the fact that they were the only team in the Houston Independent School District to make it to the second round. Although their season came to a close following their defeat, the team was ready to get back to work after a short grieving period, which lasted all of 10 minutes, according to Williams.
“As soon as the game was over with, the players were sad,” she said. “But as soon as we got on the bus, they were like, ‘coach, next year if you want me to play forward, midfield or goalie, I’ll play any position.’”
The girls were so amped about the idea of competing and continuing to build off of their success from this season that they even asked their coach if they had practice the following Monday.
Williams politely reiterated that the season was over, but she was delighted that the team was eager and motivated to get back on the field. Going back to the regular season when they were accumulating points in numbers, the team sold shirts that said, “What’s life without goals?” which wasn’t just a reflection of what they were doing on the field.
“Every game I told them to set a little goal for themselves that you want to accomplish or you want to reach,” Williams said. Some girls set objectives to pass the ball more often, while others made the classroom more of a priority, which is a testament to the culture that Williams is trying to establish.
“One of the ways that I’ve been able to do that is show the girls that I’m not just a coach,” she said. “I’m also a parent, so I stay on them about their grades, about tutorials – they have mandatory tutorials.”
Williams, who is also a math teacher, has been able to assist her players with algebra and calculus during the tutorials. While she wants her team to perform well on the field, she would rather see them act as model citizens who excel in school, which has become an ethos of sort for Scarborough.
“We’re student athletes, and we’re Lady Spartans,” Williams said. “The word student comes before athlete, so without being a good student, you can’t really perform as an athlete, and lady comes before Spartan, so we must portray ourselves as ladies, inside and outside of the classroom.”
As one of the more prosperous programs at Scarborough, the Lady Spartans have set the bar for success and are now the symbols for it.
“They don’t have any examples of what they’re doing, like at the school there really aren’t any programs doing what they’re doing, so they are the example,” Williams said. “With that being said, they show other teams how to fight.”