JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
BURNET — In their first year as varsity programs, the Burnet High School boys and girls soccer teams will embark on one of the toughest ways to qualify for the Class 4A playoffs.
Last spring coaches of District 25-4A voted to play a modified league schedule because the division has nine members.
What that means is because of the luck of the draw, Burnet will play Salado, Liberty Hill, Lampasas, and Little River Academy twice and only play Leander Glenn, Florence, Jarrell, and Georgetown Gateway once for a total of 12 district games.
While that’s a rough schedule for the Bulldogs, it’s strenuous excursion for the Lady Dawgs.
Salado was the girls’ Class 4A Region IV winner and advanced to the state tournament a year ago, while Liberty Hill and Lampasas have had soccer teams for many years.
And the bigger challenge is Burnet plays the three opponents in a row. Each district will send the top four teams into the playoffs.
“You have to play tough,” Lady Dawgs head coach Wes Strahan said. “It’s a tough district. They’re great kids and good athletes. It’s the first time in my career I’ve had a district schedule like this.”
The Lady Dawgs will have 22 players on the roster led by senior Madelinne Dietrick, who committed to play college soccer for Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and juniors Alyssa Arnold and Savannah McHam.
Senior Lexey Parker and junior Chelsea Bible will trade time at goalie.
“Their play in goal will contribute to our success,” Strahan said. “Neither one has played goal before, and they’re the best I’ve got.”
Dietrick acknowledged the hurdles as a first-year varsity program.
“This year is definitely going to be a tough, but we’re up for the challenge,” Dietrick said.
To senior Summir Hill, one of the big keys is being fundamentally sound.
“Defense and ball handling,” she said. “We’re working on that a lot this year.”
The Bulldogs will have a roster of 17 players led by junior forward Tyler Torres, sophomore midfielders Hector Lopez and Ruben Rodriguez, and senior wing Ty Pulliam.
“We have tough-minded individuals,” Bulldogs head coach Bryan Robinson said. “I just hope that continues year-in and year-out.”
As for the district race, Robinson said he believes Burnet will be in the running for a playoff spot.
“I think we can compete well,” he said.
Both teams have had after-school practices since returning from the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Bulldogs open their season at Bandera at 5 p.m. Jan. 3 at Bulldog Stadium, 474 Old San Antonio Highway in Bandera.
The Lady Dawgs begin their season with a home game against China Spring at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, at Bulldog Field, 1000 The Green Mile in Burnet.