NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Southlake Carroll booked its first trip to the state soccer tournament since winning it all in 2008 by defeating Flower Mound Marcus 4-1 on Saturday in the Class 5A Region I final at Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex.The Dragons (29-2-0) will play in the state semifinals at either 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Friday.Weve been talking about this for the last month, Carroll coach Matt Colvin said. Our coaching staff has been through this, but we just want the girls to feel what it feels like to make that trip, to step out on that stadium knowing youre that much closer to winning the whole thing,After Marcus (24-4-1) took a 1-0 lead on a header by Baylee Mitchell off a corner kick from Katelyn Mountjoy in the 20th minute, Carroll rattled off the final four goals of the match.Sophie Groff scored the first of her two goals in the 34th minute on a free kick from 33 yards out to knot the score before heading to halftime. The South Carolina signee leads the Dragons in scoring with 27 goals but failed to score in the previous three playoff wins.It was huge going into halftime tied, Colvin said. Sophie is an unbelievable player, and she hasnt had things go her way throughout the playoffs as far as scoring goals and you could tell it was wearing on her a little bit. But to score like that, in that fashion, it really boosted the whole teams confidence.The first 10 minutes of the second half featured a pair of blown opportunities by each team. The Marauders missed a wide-open shot on a rebound from less than 5 yards out as the ball glanced off the right post and was cleared by Carroll.As the intensity and physicality picked up, so did the Dragons opportunities, and they took advantage.Senior midfielder Meghan Murphys header off a corner kick by Julia Dyche in the 59th minute broke the tie before Groff added her second solo score from 30-plus yards just five minutes later to give Carroll a commanding 3-1 lead.Sophomore Danielle Dennis capped the scoring with a dazzling 1-on-4 run down the left sideline, where she dribbled by a pair of defenders before finding the back of the net off a rebound of her own miss in the 76th minute.Honestly, through my four years weve all worked so hard and weve wanted to get where we are for so long, and its finally here, so were not going to let something stop us, Groff said.There was no point of that game where we didnt think we were going to win because we talked about it before to never let down, that we were always going to fight no matter what the score was.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JohnsonJarret