Gracie Morris

Our Lady of the Hills’ Gracie Morris charges across the pitch during the Lady Hawks’

Coach Jorge Salinas’ message to his Our Lady of the Hills soccer girls this season can be captured in a single word: patience.

The Lady Hawks no longer have dynamic scorers Maddie Morris or Shay Smith, who are currently playing soccer at the college level, and they no longer have Anna O’Leary or Haiven Furbush anchoring their back line. So naturally, they aren’t going to pile up wins at the same rate they did last season, when they waltzed to a TAPPS state title.

But that hasn’t kept Salinas from remaining optimistic. The Lady Hawks are currently 3-3, suffering a 4-2 loss to Boerne Geneva on Thursday. Still, Salinas believes the Lady Hawks are flush with young talent. Once they begin to mature, he said, watch out.

“We always try to keep a positive attitude because no two years are the same,” Salinas said. “No two years are the same. We knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle, because we have new talent leaving and we have fresh, raw talent that we have to try and develop. That’s where we are at right now.”

The Lady Hawks have nine underclassmen on their roster who have already impressed Salinas. Sophomore Gracie Morris and freshman Avery Morris are flashing some of the same talent that earned their older sister Maddie Morris an offer from Oklahoma State. Sophomores Brianna Alcorta and Gabby Michalak have also shown promise, according to Salinas

And, of course, the Lady Hawks still have experience returning. They are led by all-state midfielder Mikayla Grocki, center back Rylee Coldwell and goal keeper Abie Benitez.

The three seniors are tasked with navigating OLH’s young roster

through the expected growing pains.

Salinas, though, has embraced the challenge. After all, Maddie Morris and Smith also experienced growing pains before they claimed the school’s first state soccer title last season. He’s hoping the current players can do the same.

“I told the ladies that it’s not going to be easy,” Salinas said. “But it’s just part of it. This is how we develop a team that is going to do something special down the road.”

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