Reagan girls soccer team clears mental hurdle to clinch state tourney berth

April 14, 2014

SAN ANTONIO — The cheering had started to die down, and Reagan juniorNicole Galan turned reflective. The Rattlers beat Churchill 1-0 on penalty kicks in the Region IV-5A final Saturday at Blossom Stadium moments earlier, and Galan felt as if the celebration was a long time coming. Reagan advanced to the Class 5A regional quarterfinals in Galan’s first two varsity seasons in 2012 and 2013, and while each finish would qualify as a banner year at most schools, the Rattlers didn’t view it that way. For whatever reason, Reagan couldn’t navigate a third-round hurdle. The Rattlers found the cure for the impediment this year — and it’s a key to why they’re headed to the UIL 5A state tournament this week in Georgetown. Reagan (21-1-3) will play two-time defending state champion Plano West (19-2-4) at 1 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals. “This team definitely has passion, and I think some of the other teams in the past years were kind of missing that,” Galan said. “Everyone just shared that common goal. We all wanted to win. We’re all working super, super hard. There was not one person doubting our ability.” While Reagan is headed to the state tournament for the fourth time but for the first since 2009, its opponent has been a fixture at the event. Plano West will make its eighth appearance at state in 15 years and third straight, during which the Wolves won six state titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2013). They beat Reagan 5-0 in the state semifinals in 2002. “(Going to the state tournament is) a dream come true,” Reagan coach Frankie Whitlock said. “What I told the kids is there are so many great players who never get to this point. I love every bit of paperwork. I love calling to get the hotel and make sure the food list is right. This is what every coach prepares for. “What our success has been about is playing better soccer on our side of the ball. This team is so critical of itself.” The self-analysis has helped pull the Rattlers through some tough spots. Saturday’s regional final was the latest example. “One of the biggest parts of a game is mental,” Galan said. “Staying positive makes the hugest difference in the world. Whenever you’re on the edge, your mind’s about to shut off, your legs are tired, and you’re looking at the clock wondering when the game’s about to be done, when you have a teammate cheering you on, it gives you a super energy boost.”