NTMWD Plant Smart 2024

Lady Panthers bring back experience, seek further improvement

by | Jan 5, 2024 | Sports

While last season didn’t seem significant for Plano East, the growth shown brings plenty of excitement for the 2024 campaign.

The Lady Panthers won eight games in 2023, still finishing under .500 for the year. With a young roster, East improved by six wins from the season before. Heading into the new year, the team looks hungry and hopes to change the girls’ soccer program narrative.

“Two years ago we were really down, then last season improved dramatically and looked closer,” Head coach Cristy Cooley said. “This year, we’ve got a big senior class and a really talented sophomore class. We have some great talent coming in and we’re happy to have everyone here.”

Part of that excitement is a strong performance in the team’s first scrimmage of the season. Taking on McKinney on Dec. 8, the Lady Panthers won 4-1, with Sofia Tepichin leading the team. It was a good game for Plano East and showed the work they put in during the offseason.

“We had a really good preseason and for the first time in a while played fall soccer, playing three other good teams not in the district and it’s been good for us,” Cooley said. “Winning against McKinney was a good first step for us. We wanted to go and did more than that. It was great to watch.”

With that production, Plano East wants to see their next step in the phase of development. While the girls won eight games a year ago, just two came in district play. With some of the top teams in the state calling District 6-6A home, the goal of competing and making the playoffs will be a difficult task.

“We have had a lot of good individuals in the past, but if they’re not a team it won’t lead to the results we want,” Cooley said. “We can compete well and do anything we want, but it’s going to take good team chemistry and working together against other really good teams.”

Leading the pack of talented players will be the return of Payton Cooper. While she missed last season while playing with her club team, she was named the District 6-6A Newcomer of the Year, while also being honored on the district’s First Team as a freshman in 2022. She had an assist in the Plano East’s opening scrimmage and should be one of the key goal-scorers on the roster this year.

She’ll be paired with Lauren Delapaz, Sienna Schell and others who can make an impact. Delapaz, in particular, has stood out this preseason as one of Coach Cooley’s freshman on the varsity roster.

Between the mix of younger athletes and experienced players like Isabella Queneau, Plano East is excited to see what 2024 has in store.

“In the past, we might’ve had a strong starting lineup, but bringing girls off the bench would change things,” Cooley said. “I feel like any girl on the varsity team can come in and contribute. It doesn’t disrupt our rhythm or flow with anyone in.”

Plano East opens the season at the Wylie High School tournament on Jan. 4-6 to begin the regular season. They will kick off the action that Thursday against John Paul II High School at 11:50 a.m. They’ll have just a few weeks to ramp up, with district play beginning shortly after on Jan. 23 against Plano.

With the team working hard, the Lady Panthers are ready to show they have what it takes to show improvement.

“We’re always going to establish goals, and myself and the leadership team have proved helpful in guiding in the right direction,” Cooley said. “We have the players to do it, we just have to stay positive. It’s the ‘Year of the Panther’ and we hope to be a part of that.”

By Kyle Grondin • [email protected]

For more stories like this, see the January 4, 2024 print, or digital edition of the Murphy Monitor. Subscribe today and support local journalism in your community.

Photos online

0 Comments

Public Notice - Subscribe

Related News

Plano East softball camp brings out the smiles

Plano East softball camp brings out the smiles

Ava Lamb fields the throw at first after a short hit during a fun competition on Thursday. The sun was shining, and the smiles were plentiful as the campers enjoyed their final day of the camp. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) The Plano East softball...

read more
Future hoop stars pack PESH gym for youth camp

Future hoop stars pack PESH gym for youth camp

Zeke Benedetto dribbles the ball through a cone drill as Coach Shanda Tyler and camper Kiyn Bhavsar look on. Last week’s youth basketball camp had a terrific turnout. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) While the future of Plano East softball was busy outside...

read more
Progress the theme to Panthers’ 7-on-7 work

Progress the theme to Panthers’ 7-on-7 work

Following the end of spring football in late-May, the Plano East’s skilled position players shifted their focus to 7-on-7. The Panthers have hit the field twice already, competing in Allen and Arlington. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) While the calendar...

read more
Panthers close out spring with Black & Gold Game

Panthers close out spring with Black & Gold Game

Kariem Pittman (15) breaks loose in the open field for Plano East’s Black Team in last week’s spring game at Kimbrough Field. The Panthers put on a terrific showing for the crowd in their final action in pads until next fall. (Roosevelt Joubert/Murphy Monitor)...

read more
Plano East football holds spring scrimmage

Plano East football holds spring scrimmage

The Plano East football team held a scrimmage last Saturday, before concluding spring football sessions this week with the annual Black and Gold Spring Game. (Roosevelt Joubert/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) It’s been an exciting spring for the Plano East football...

read more
PESH hunting for improvement in spring practices 

PESH hunting for improvement in spring practices 

The Plano East Panthers are several weeks into their spring football schedule, working hard in preparation for next fall. They will hold an intersquad scrimmage this Saturday, May 11, at 9 a.m. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) Football is back at Plano...

read more
Panthers see tough season come to an end

Panthers see tough season come to an end

The Plano East Panthers have endured a frustrating spring on the baseball diamond. That season came to an end last week with a pair of losses to Coppell to drop them to 1-13 in the group. (Roosevelt Joubert/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) The Plano East baseball season...

read more
PESH takes home district crown 

PESH takes home district crown 

The Plano East boys track team won the District 6-6A title at Marauder Stadium on Thursday, April 4. The Panthers edged out Coppell by a score of 129-113, with Marcus placing third (108 points) (Courtesy Photo) The Plano East track teams had quite the showing at the...

read more
40-0! Plano East completes perfect season with title 

40-0! Plano East completes perfect season with title 

The Plano East Panthers are the Class 6A State Champions after defeating Round Rock Stony Point 53-41. After opening the state tournament with a 61-45 victory over Lake Ridge, the guys earned their 40th victory of the season by winning the rematch with Stony Point to...

read more
Public Notice - Subscribe