Frenship's Zeta McDannels leads girls soccer team to new 'standard' in memorable run

WOLFFORTH — Lauren Denning knows what other parts of the state think of Lubbock-area soccer.

Teams like her Frenship squad often aren't considered among the upper echelon, but that's part of what gave the Tigers extra motivation to do what they did.

Frenship reached the region semifinals for the first time since 2019, displaying a grit and workmanlike approach that opposing coaches noticed. Zeta McDannels led that charge.

Despite entering the season with heightened attention on her, McDannels delivered again. Denning said the junior midfielder helped establish the "standard" each day in practice. Earning the distinction for a second consecutive season, McDannels is also making Lubbock Avalanche-Journal girls soccer player of the year her personal standard.

Frenship's Zeta McDannels is the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's girls soccer player of the year, as seen Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at the Frenship Athletic Complex in Wolfforth.
Frenship's Zeta McDannels is the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's girls soccer player of the year, as seen Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at the Frenship Athletic Complex in Wolfforth.

"She is one of those where you can say, hey, this is what I need, and she's going to do everything she possibly can to accomplish that," Denning said. "She's going to run through the brick wall. She's going to defend like our lives depend on it. She's going to take a challenge and run with it. … She's gonna potentially bleed and break and do all the things on the field until she has zero left to give."

McDannels finished with 16 goals and 16 assists to earn District 2-6A MVP for a third-straight season. She was an all-state selection by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.

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She helped Frenship reach the regional tournament, beating two Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex teams along the way. It was a meaningful path, considering the aura surrounding schools from that area.

"It's in our head that we gotta turn it on and we gotta be on our game," McDannels said of facing D-FW teams. "Just be there to win because we know that it's a hard team and we have to push ourselves to actually win."

Frenship's Zeta McDannels is the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's girls soccer player of the year, as seen Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at the Frenship Athletic Complex in Wolfforth.
Frenship's Zeta McDannels is the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's girls soccer player of the year, as seen Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at the Frenship Athletic Complex in Wolfforth.

McDannels said conquering Metroplex foes, like the Tigers did against Keller and Trophy Club Nelson in consecutive shootouts, prompts celebrations all the way home.

Denning said there's an underdog feeling once D-FW is on the schedule, which began in the second round.

"I think we feed off of that a little bit," Denning said. "Like, hey, they don't think we're anything. They think we're small-town Lubbock, don't have any soccer players and we just kind of lucked our way into it. So I do think we feed off of that a little bit. But we also want to go out there with the confidence of we know exactly who we are. We're proud of it, and we have earned everything up until now. There were no accidents."

Frenship didn't lose until a 1-0 result against Flower Mound Marcus. It was the deepest playoff run under Denning, who said that's now the bar for the program.

McDannels will be at the center of chasing that. Growing as a leader while shining on offense and defense, she had her best season yet. Denning, who said she often has to "rein in" McDannels to manage pressure, is expecting even more in 2025.

That's fine by McDannels, who is committed to UTEP. She was drawn to the mountainous landscape and climate of El Paso, where she'll join forces with recent Coronado grad Cassie Garza. McDannels said she's glad to have her college decision made so she can focus on her final year in Frenship colors.

It may be hard to top, but McDannels and a seasoned group of classmates are ready to maintain the team's success level.

"I will never forget some of those games and what we went through," Denning said, "and watching them come together as a team. Watching them accomplish something that people didn't think they could was really, really special. And now that's the standard. … This is the expectation. Now we know how to get here, and now we just have to make sure that we're continuing that legacy."

Frenship's Zeta McDannels is the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's girls soccer player of the year, as seen Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at the Frenship Athletic Complex in Wolfforth.
Frenship's Zeta McDannels is the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's girls soccer player of the year, as seen Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at the Frenship Athletic Complex in Wolfforth.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Frenship's Zeta McDannels is Lubbock A-J girls soccer player of year

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