From local tomboy to state soccer queen

HHS senior Rachel Allen caps high school career with great accomplishments

Patty Hullett
Mirror correspondent
Heritage senior Rachel Allen (15) controls the ball during a soccer game this past season. Allen ended her high school playing career by helping lead the Jags to their second state girls' soccer championship.

Rachel Allen started her sports career much like any other all-America kid. Soccer is usually a good testing ground to discover athleticism in a child. Often, after a season or two of trying their hand at the sport, most parents (and the child) can tell whether or not they are good at it and if they truly enjoy it. Such is the tale of 18-year old senior Rachel Allen, star Midlothian Heritage soccer player.

Rachel started playing soccer at age 5. Her debut occurred when she became a part of the Midlothian Soccer Association and she played for the “Purple Dragons”. Having an older brother helped her understand the game better, as she often joined he and his friends in practicing the game of soccer. She became quite the tomboy and could easily hold her on against these bigger and older boys in their neighborhood. She never really had any formal training, like taking lessons or anything like that. What she learned, she learned from other kids and her various soccer coaches over the years.

Rachel explains, “This regular practice of kicking the soccer ball around with friends gave me the leading edge of my competitive sense in sports.”

Over the years she has enjoyed other sports – like running cross country and track, playing basketball, and also doing karate. In her sophomore year at MHHS she made the big decision to dedicate herself fully to the game of soccer. She finally realized that it was her true love and that she needed to focus more of her time and effort to the one sport she was most passionate about.

A whirlwind week of winning

The past week or so has to be some of Rachel Allen’s most exciting days of her young life. This vivacious and beautiful senior and her Jags played the #2 state-ranked Celina Bobcats in the Regional Final soccer game at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium on April 13. She had the unenviable task of defending the record-breaking scorer for the Bobcats. The Dallas Morning News recently reported on the greatness of Taylor Zdrojewski and her record breaking 112 goals in a season in girls high school soccer. That was the task given to her by Heritage’s head coach Gerald Slovacek – a perfect game plan as devised by the well-seasoned and savvy soccer coach. The Bobcats seemed to be a pretty much one-dimensional team, with Zdrojewski spearheading the scoring for Celina. So, Coach Slovacek told his outstanding sweeper/ defender to get out there and “sic ‘em”. And that is what this determined and tenacious young lady did. Wherever Zdrojewski went, there was Rachel Allen. She followed her around like a shadow. Often she had the help of another Jaguar defender or midfielder to double-team the Bobcats’ terrific scorer. But close doesn’t count in soccer, so Zdrojewski’s few shots “at” the goal all went over the top or they were misdirected and/or went askew and missed their mark. Senior Jaeden Barela was also stellar in goal for the Jags, as she recorded yet another shutout for the season.

Rachel states, “Taylor Zdrojewski is a very high-caliber soccer player, and she definitely gave me an awesome challenge. I was very proud to keep her scoreless, but I definitely couldn’t have done it without the defensive line and the other 10 Jaguar players on the field. I knew that my man-marking her and preventing her from getting the ball would give us the win, and I saw how hard my teammates were working together, so I knew I needed to do everything I could to shut her down.”

All in all, this great Heritage defender and her teammates held this scoring magnet and her top-rated team to “zero” goals. The final game tally was Heritage 1, and Celina 0.

Thus, the Jaguars took to the road on Thursday, April 15, State bound for Georgetown, Texas. This determined athlete and her very skilled team had a purpose in mind – not to just “play” in the State championship game, but to “win” the title. They had a date with destiny, and the match was set for 10:00 a.m. the following morning (April 16).

As Rachel looked back on her fondest memory of soccer, she recalls her 9th grade experience. She says, “My favorite would be the 2017-2018 team making history and winning our first ever State title, and the playoffs in general, because those are the games I looked forward to, and I feel like the team grew closer with every playoff victory along the way.

At their recent State game in Georgetown, the Jags felt confident because they had already defeated two of the best playoff teams in prior competition – the Argyle Eagles and the Celina Bobcats. Also, they knew that their State opponent had never experienced a playoff final game – in any sport in the history of their school – Corpus Christi Calallen High School.

Rachel relays, “Once we scored in the sixth minute of the match, our confidence began to grow. In fact, the game was going along so well that I got to play back as a defender and then also some as a midfielder. This gave me an excellent scoring opportunity before the half and I cashed in from about 20 yards out with a goal just off the out-stretched fingertips of the Calallen goalie.”

She continues, “It was unbelievably special to have started and ended my high school soccer career as a State Champ! These last few playoff games (prior to State) were all nail-biters and I could tell at the end of the day, our team wanted it more. Winning my senior year, I felt such relief and also great thankfulness because I knew that the State Championship would be my last soccer game and I had to make the most of it! The team, in general, was so much fun and we were all close with each other, making the playoff run even more exciting. We worked hard for each other and I’m so proud of how far we have come this season!”

Final score – finally some breathing room – Heritage 6, and Calallen 0.

What lies ahead

Rachel says, “Playing soccer with Coach Slovacek is one of the things I will miss the most about high school. We have grown so close over the four years and he knows how to make practice competitive and fun, how to make us laugh, and how to push us to be our best!”

She carries on, “Soccer is so special to me because it allows me to showcase my skills and it really takes my mind off other things that may be stressful. In other words, soccer is the one thing that calms me down and that I’m most focused on.”

If that wasn’t enough excitement for Rachel Allen, it was prom time for Heritage High School. Rachel explains, “It was such a busy, busy weekend for me. Our prom was held on Saturday, April 17, at the Waxahachie Civic Center, and I was lucky again, as I won the “Prom Queen” title.”

Rachel is the daughter of proud parents Claiborne and Carla Allen. They originally lived in Grand Prairie, until their daughter was age 2, and from there on out, they have been a Midlothian family through the heart. The Allens also have one son, Benjamin, who is 20.

Some of Rachel’s favorite hobbies are: watching Netflix and YouTube, hanging out with her friends, and spending time with her family. Besides being on the soccer team, Rachel is also a proud member of the school’s National Honor Society.

“Lastly”, says Rachel, “I plan on furthering my soccer career and education at Dallas Baptist University. And, yes, I am blessed to be going on a soccer scholarship. My dream involves getting (1) a Master’s degree or a Double Major; (2) to be successful in soccer at DBU; and (3) to enjoy myself while I work hard to brighten my own future in the years ahead.”