Burleson freshman Saul shows off her versatility
Burleson freshman forward McKenna Saul burst onto the scene this season and played a major role in helping the Lady Elks girls soccer team to their first playoff appearance under coach Charles Nobles.
Although the Lady Elks were knocked out with a 1-0 loss to Fort Worth Arlington Heights in the first-round of the playoffs, Saul shared Co-Utility Player of the Year honotson the District 8-5A girls soccer team with Joshua freshman midfielder Chloe Walker.
Saul led the Elks in scoring with 20 goals and was tops in assists with 15. Nobles called her a phenomenal player who has great ability and will just get better and better.
“McKenna really helped us achieve the things we did this season,” Nobles said. “She is a great player because she has grown up playing the game and she has a love for it. She never stops, she’s always trying to get better. She is always out there working. She will spend her free time improving her skills. It’s a passion for her and she’s driven to be the best that she can be.”
Burleson finished tied fourth with Cleburne in 8-5A with a record of 6-2-6. By virtue of beating Cleburne both times, the Lady Elks made the playoffs for the first time in four years. Burleson posted an overall record of 14-3-8.
“It was a great season for us,” Nobles said. “It is nice to see over the three years I have been here the growth we have had. We won a tournament, finished third in a big Class 6A tournament and we made the playoffs. These kids have put the work in for the last three years and it was nice to see that payoff this season. They earned it. They have worked so hard for this. They deserve it.”
The Lady Elks placed three players - senior defender Stephanie Hotchkiss, junior midfielder Madison Ezell and sophomore midfielder Faith Strube - on the 8-5A first team.
Hotchkiss, a team captain, helped anchor Burleson’s stingy defense but along the way was able to score a goal and add two assists. Nobles called Hotchkiss one of the most amazing kids he’d ever met.
“She is a great captain and a great leader,” Nobles said. “I know that doesn’t justify why she made first team but that does explain the reason she has become who she is. She works so hard. She’s been a great center-back for us. She’s held us together and kept us organized. She is one of the hardest workers on the soccer field and she’s just a great kid.”
Ezell, who Nobles called the a special player, posted five goals and tallied four assists. After performing well as a freshman, Ezell’s sophomore season ended four games into district play because of an injury.
”This year she came back and stayed healthy,” Nobles said. “She is just a huge difference maker no matter where she play. She moved to midfielder this season and showed the ability to string passes together and create combinations off the forwards. It’s great she will have another year with us.”
Strube, the district’s Co-Newcomer of the Year last season, was second on the team in goals (8) and assists (11). Nobles called Strube a dynamic player who he just couldn’t take off the field.
“As I watch her continue to grow and grow I think that it’s hard to say a first-teamer goes unnoticed sometimes but it’s because she just does her job every time and does it so quietly,” Nobles said. “She has an amazing ability to mark players, she can score crucial goals or find the perfect assist. She’s is a very special player.”
The Lady Elks had three players on the second team including junior forward Hannah Werner, sophomore keeper Julia Mashburn and freshman midfielder Adriana Zaragoza.
Senior midfielder Mariah Escalante and junior defender Kaitlyn Wiggins were honorable mention selections.