AP NEWS

Lady Oilers winning while slowly finding soccer form

January 19, 2019

With injuries having taken their toll early in the season, plan B is already in the works for the Pearland Lady Oiler soccer team.

While it’s not the ideal situation for head coach Elise Karlowicz’s team, the third-year Pearland mentor can at least attack the drawing board quickly and move forward.

“I think we’re getting used to playing with people in different positions,” Karlowicz said. “With the injuries we’ve had, we’re reshuffling.

“The injuries look like they may be long-term so this is an opportunity for other girls to show what they’ve got. We lost some great seniors who were vital to our team last year, but we have a lot of girls stepping up already.”

A solid nucleus of players has Pearland ranked in the preseason top-10 rankings of Greater Houston area schools.

“Avery Barron (TCU commit) is doing a tremendous job in the midfield, and Karina Gonzalez and Haley Gangloff (Centenary commit) in the back have been really solid,” Karlowicz said. “McKenzie Rizqi (Louisiana-Monroe commit) up top gives us additional strength.”

Julianna Tropea, Gabby Gibson and Isabella Dollagaray have also led the Pearland offense this season while Piper Stewart has been strong in goal.

Following a 3-0 loss to top-ranked Katy Tompkins Friday night, Pearland’s record is still a respectable 5-2-1.

“The girls had a good showing in The Woodlands tournament,” Karlowicz said. “It was a little rough for us (in the I-10 tournament).

“We had some games where we didn’t play our best, but you could see them kind of come together. They communicated and passed the ball well.

“I think we’ll be pretty balanced. We still have a great offensive threat, and we do have some speed still. Every game there has been some improvement. In the past, we’ve started hot and fizzled out.

“Having this adversity isn’t what you want, but I think it’s going to be good for us. The girls can already see that it’s going to get better.”

Pearland has already posted victories over Cedar Park Vista Ridge, Georgetown, George Ranch, Clear Brook and Austin SFA.

Upcoming matches against Katy and Deer Park should only strengthen the Lady Oilers entering District 23-6A play.

Perennial power Brazoswood is favored to claim the league title.

“I know that all the Alief schools have improved,” Karlowicz said. “Dawson is young, but that’s always a very tough match for us.

“Brazoswood returns a lot of players and is ranked second in this region, and George Ranch is solid.”

A district crown won’t be easy to come by for the Lady Oilers, but finishing the season strong and making the playoffs is the initial goal.

“For us, solidifying as a team and finding our rhythm is what we need to do first,” Karlowicz said. “I think we’re getting there.

“Everyone we have on the team plays a tremendous role. We have a bunch of leaders and we’re confident. The girls know the expectations. We just need to put it all together.”

tdunnam@hcnonline.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly