The District 6-5A champion Grapevine girls extended their winning streak to 15 games, but had to go to a shootout before advancing past Flower Mound in the bi-district round of the soccer playoffs.
After playing to a 1-1 stalemate through regulation and overtime, the Mustangs’ season came down to penalty kicks.
“I was probably more uptight in regulation and overtime,” coach Ryan Davis said. “Usually about the last three weeks of the season, we end every practice with penalty kicks. We rehearse our PKs and we try to put pressure on the kids. Once we’d gotten to that point I felt pretty good our girls could execute. Our goalkeeping situation is absolutely phenomenal and I feel like if we get to that point in any match, it favors us.”
The Mustangs (18-4-4) will look to make it 16 straight Friday when they face Midlothian (15-6-5) at Dragon Stadium in Southlake. Coming into the season, Davis saw his team had potential, but wasn’t sure how quickly it could be realized.
“I knew the team would be good, and we expected to contend for a district title but we have so many young kids — sophomores and freshmen — that there were question marks going in and I didn’t know that we would end up the way we did,” he said.
“We played a very difficult non-district schedule to begin the year and I could see that once the team got some experience that they were going to be good. We just needed time together and some experience for the younger kids.
“The girls are really enjoying their season and they don’t want it to be done,” Davis added. “They just want more games; they want to keep playing together. I think our best soccer is still in front of us. Each week, because of their work ethic and preparation, I think they can continue to get better. Every match here on out will be very difficult, but I feel like we can win any game.”
Entering the season, many considered girls 11-4A to be one of, if not the toughest district in the entire state. Two rounds into the playoffs, it’s hard to argue. All four postseason qualifiers have advanced to the sectional round, which means those teams will find themselves facing off again. Two will move on and two will start looking toward next season.
“It does say a lot about the district,” Trophy Club Nelson coach Philip Salyer said. “I enjoy playing in a district like that. I feel like it makes us that much better and it prepares us for tough teams and tough games.”
Nelson (24-2-1), which finished second in district, will face Lake Dallas (19-16-4), which finished fourth, on Thursday. In the other regional quarterfinal featuring 11-4A teams, Birdville (17-4-5) will play district champion Denton Guyer (21-1-0).
Nelson won both regular-season meetings against Lake Dallas, but Salyer isn’t concerned about his team assuming a positive result.
“[The players] know they had to work extremely hard to get those two wins because Lake Dallas is a tough team to play against,” he said. “I think they know this team isn’t a pushover by any means and it’s going to take our best game.”
Eagles quickly soar
In just their first year, the Mansfield Lake Ridge boys are setting a high bar for success. The Eagles finished runners-up in District 16-4A, and have already won two playoff games.
“Being able to lay this first foundation — however far we go — next year it’s going to be a stepping stone that’s going to hopefully propel our program to be a dominant one here in the Metroplex,” coach Cory Elolf said.
Things didn’t look so promising at the beginning of the season. The Eagles won just one of their first nine games, but they’re 11-7-5 now and in the third round of the playoffs.
“There’s a lot of good talent that we have, it was just a matter if we could come together and overcome our youth,” Elolf said. “We have so many sophomores and freshmen that we have to rely on.”
But after that poor start, things began to click for Lake Ridge.
“It wasn’t until right around district play that we were able to really get on a roll and we started to understand the mental aspect of it; that you can’t just bring a ball out and automatically expect to win.”
The Eagles face District 15-4A champion Granbury in the regional quarterfinals Friday night at Fort Worth’s Clark Stadium.
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