With the new year comes the start of a new season: high school soccer. And teams from both Midlothian High and Heritage High are hitting the pitch running, with the first matches slated for Thursday.

The defending Class 4A state runner-up Heritage boys lead the way. Coach Austin Guest’s Jaguars finished 25-8-1 in 2019 and came heartachingly close to winning the Class 4A boys’ state championship, losing to San Elizario in double overtime, 1-0.

Returning for the Jags are seniors Konnor Koethe, Noah May, Mason Whitworth, Garrett Garvin and Zach Schmidt; juniors Calvin Duggins, Elliot Moore and Tanner Black; and sophomore Wesley Nelson. Garvin is team captain, and Koethe returns at goalkeeper.

Heritage opens the season on Thursday at the Liberty Hill tournament. They will face Liberty Hill in the opener at 1:15 p.m., followed by Stephenville at 11:30 a.m. on Friday; Palestine at 10 a.m. on Saturday; and Taylor at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

In fact, the first three weeks of the season will all be in tournament play. Heritage High and MISD will host the Frostbite Tournament Jan. 9-11 with matches against Mineral Wells, Athens and Carrollton Ranchview. The Jags will compete in the Alvarado tournament Jan. 16-18 with games against Argyle, Life Oak Cliff, Snyder and Fort Worth Carter-Riverside.

District 12-4A play begins on Feb. 11 at Life Waxahachie. The Jags will take on Life, Venus, Alvarado, Ferris and new member Keene home-and-away in loop action.

HHS girls

After winning the Class 4A state championship in 2018, Heritage (23-2-3 in 2019) was favored to repeat last year, but fell flat in the region semifinals against Longview Spring Hill, losing 5-1.

However, with the firepower the Jaguars have coming back, a return to the top is within the realm of possibility.

Junior Rachel Allen had a scintillating 2019 with 20 goals and nine assists. Classmate Hannah Dorsey added 13 goals and eight assists, and sophomore Brynn Pollock burst onto the scene with a 10-goal, 11-assist freshman season. Senior Aaliyah Bivins added eight goals despite missing about half the season.

At goalkeeper, senior Megan McCarthy got the majority of minutes last season and posted a 90-percent save rate, conceding only 13 goals all year with 19 shutouts.

Other returnees for HHS from last season are seniors Allie Beller and Makenlee Mabra; juniors Emilee Page, Kylar Kenter, Jaedyn Barela and Savana Conde; and sophomores Sydney Dickson and Logan Berumen.

Like the Jaguar boys, the girls also open the new season in the Liberty Hill tourney. They will face Brownwood at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Melissa at 9:45 am. and Liberty Hill at 3 p.m. on Friday; and Paris North Lamar at noon on Saturday.

Heritage will host the Frostbite Tournament Jan. 9-11 with matches against Athens, Salado and Kennedale; then they’ll play in the Birdville tournament Jan. 16-18. District play opens on Feb. 11 at HHS against Life Waxahachie.

MHS boys

The Midlothian Panthers are coming off a successful year in which they finished 16-5-4 and won the District 14-5A championship, but came up short against Lufkin in a 2-0 area-round loss.

The Panthers were hit hard by graduation, losing nine seniors, but still possess some weapons. Leading scorer Justin Barnett returns for his senior season after netting a team-high 17 goals and adding 12 assists for MHS a year ago. Tanner Henderson, who last fall ran in the University Interscholastic League state cross country meet, added 13 goals in 2019 and also returns.

Seniors Shane Reasonover and Jairo Moreno also return, as well as juniors Nick Arenare, Juan Martinez and Ryan Tate.

The trio of senior Dalton Wolf, junior Zeke Compton and sophomore Caden Hyndman will vie for goalkeeping duties.

The Panthers open the season on Thursday in the Highland Park tournament, with games against Waco High on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.; against Highland Park on Friday at 3:20 p.m.; and against Wylie on Saturday at 3:20 p.m. The Panthers will also play in a tournament in Aledo Jan. 9-11.

The Panthers’ home opener will be Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. at MISD Multipurpose Stadium against Waco Midway. The rest of the home games for the Panthers will be at the newly-refurbished W,G. Roesler Athletic Complex at MHS. Their first match at the new ground will be Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. against Waxahachie.

The game against the rival Indians will be their final prep for District 14-5A play, which begins Jan. 24 at Waco University.

MHS girls

Midlothian High’s girls last year went 15-7-3 and finished third in District 14-5A, but dropped a 2-1 result to North Forney in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

Junior Kaleigh Naizer returns after a stellar sophomore year in which she scored a team-high 17 goals and added six assists. Senior Tori Sorrels is also back after an 11-goal, 16-assist campaign in 2019.

Zoe Boldt, a senior, returns in goal for the Lady Panthers. Boldt played in all 21 games for MHS last year and posted 12 clean sheets. This year, Boldt will have some help as sophomore Landry Combs joins her between the pipes.

Other returning seniors for MHS are midfielders Sydnee Garner, Hannah Valle and Julia Forbes, and defensive specialists Brooklyn Davis and Elizabeth Simpson. Juniors Mariah Griffin and Amanda Omehe also return.

The Lady Panthers are also entered in the Highland Park tournament to start the season, with their opening match set for Thursday at 3:20 p.m. against Alamo Heights of San Antonio. They will also take on Highland Park at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and Rockwall at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Lady Panthers will open the Aledo tournament on Jan. 9 against Fort Worth Paschal, with play continuing through Jan. 11. They will play one game at MISD Multipurpose Stadium, on Jan. 13 against Saginaw Chisholm Trail.

After the Jan. 24 district opener at Waco University, the Lady Panthers will play their first match on the new pitch of the Roesler Complex at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 against Cleburne.