The Lady Mustangs beat Randall Middle School for the second year in a row. (Photo courtesy of the Mulrennan girls soccer program.)

The Mulrennan Middle School girls soccer program is cooking with fire, reaching three straight county championship games and winning the last two. The Lady Mustangs beat Randall Middle School for the second year in a row this past March by a score of 1-0, finishing with an undefeated 8-0 record. The win total from this season was the most in the program’s history.

“I felt like we accomplished something very big because I didn’t think that a one-goal lead against a very good, undefeated Randall team would be enough to win,” said captain attacking midfielder Kendal Vician. “When the final whistle blew, that’s when I felt like we could celebrate.”

Head Coach Chad Van Hoover, who has coached the team off and on for about 12 years and teaches eighth grade history at the school, has high praise for his eighth grade superstar, who will play for Durant High School next year.

“Kendal is our captain and has been to three straight county championships. She’s won the last two—we lost in penalty kicks three years ago when she was a sixth grader,” said Chad. “She’s a quiet assassin. She’s such a sweet kid, but on the field she’s a deadly weapon.”

Chad said that his team was unselfish and had great chemistry this season, which was one of the main reasons why they were so successful after losing seven starters and a pair of key substitutes from last year’s team.

“My favorite part was that our team didn’t let down and worked hard from day one,” said left midfielder Addison Kapustiak. “We played as a team, and it showed the hard work we put in.”

The Lady Mustangs had a very young team with six sixth graders. Goalie Sameha Hijaz only gave up two goals all season. Mallorie Aldridge led the team with 15 goals, including the game winner in the championship. Other top goal scorers include Vician (9), Eleya Jackson (8) and Kapustiak (7).

“The best part of playing this season for Mulrennan was meeting new people and making new friends when playing with a strong team,” said Aldridge. “It was a good experience playing for and learning from other players and coaches, and I also enjoyed being able to represent my school and community.”

Players on the team include Aldridge, Katherine Bernier, Emily Blair, Nadia Cunningham, Nora Davis, Avery Derenthal, Isabella Gabino, Hijaz, Madison Hurley, Jackson, Ella Kartes, Kapustiak, Sofia Loewenstein, Zoe Patrick, Myah Stefanovic, Brooklyn Van Hoover and Vician.

“We advanced to the semifinals by winning on penalty kicks against Davidsen. That was a lot of pressure for them, but they came up big like they always do,” said Chad. “The kids are so unselfish, and they care about each other. The parents are phenomenal. These girls are amazing. I have a bunch of them in class, and they are A students.”

Kapustiak will join Vician at Durant next season, where they will reunite with four former teammates from last year’s Mulrennan team.

“I enjoyed playing for Mulrennan for the past three years and having such a supportive coach,” Kapustiak said. “I’m going to miss this school next year.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.