Article:    
A Special Class: Kingwood Park seniors set culture of winning
3/21/2019 11:45 PM

HOUSTON – When Jess White arrived at Kingwood Park High School; the girls soccer program was still in its infancy.

Year after year the Panthers improved. Gaining more wins, getting farther in the playoffs each time out.

Then the Class of 2019 arrived.

Since the group of eight walked onto the pitch, Kingwood Park has done almost nothing but win, including reaching the state tournament for the first time in program history last season.

“They’ve taken us to places we’ve never been before and set that as an expectation,” White said. “When I first came in it was the third year of the school’s program. We improved each year but when this group came in and their sophomore year we saw a big jump. In not can we just compete but we expect to compete and win against some traditional powers.”

The seniors notched another win in their belts on Wednesday blowing out Willis 8-1 on senior night.

The win improved the seniors to 50-1-2 in district play, winning three district crowns in four years, and 78-11-5 overall with one more district and one regular season match left on the schedule.

“It means a lot, playing for this program has been so fun,” Kingwood Park senior Allie Byrd said. “Obviously, all the successes have been really fun going through the last four years.”

Byrd, who scored four goals on senior night, has been one of the key pieces to this senior class.

The North Texas signee now has 76 career goals, which puts her three goals behind Kobe McNutt (78) for sole possession of third-most goals in Kingwood Park history. Once past her, Brooke Harper’s 96 goals would be next for second-most all-time.

“The last four years I’ve seen the seniors graduate and I was like that is never going to be me,” Byrd said. “Now it’s actually me it’s a weird feeling.”

Along with Byrd, Panthers captain Taylor DeBrosky has left her mark with her stellar defense in the middle and distribution of the ball.

DeBrosky has 16 assists this season, chasing her single-season assist record of 22, which was set last season.

“Taylor is that teeth, that tank in the middle,” White said. “She’ll invite the contact and make somebody think twice about coming into where she is. She relishes the opportunity to set somebody up on a corner kick. Her service is fantastic.

“She’s selfless and nails in the middle.”

What’s really made this group – Byrd, Debrosky, Mary Kate Overton, Bella Salazar, Hailey Villareal, Claire Jimerson, Makenna Florez and Bailey Schoener – so special has been their work ethic.

“I think so, there’s a lot of phenomenal ability but there’s also blue-collar work ethic,” White said. “You have to have that no matter what sport or kind of team it is. That selfless blue-collar work to get to that level.”

So how do you replace the group that has changed the culture at a program?

It starts with a simple challenge.

“The new group will see the standard,” White said. “How will you write your story based on the expectations they set for you guys?”

But before this group rides off to the sunset, there is one more goal to check off the list – a state championship.

“Our main goal is to win the whole thing and do better than last year,” Byrd said. “We’re taking it step by step but that is our main goal.”

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