Lady Dragons bow out in state championship game

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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What Matt Colvin liked about his Carroll girls soccer team proved especially true in the final 22 minutes of the Class 5A state championship game in Georgetown.

Even with the outcome decided and hope for a comeback dashed, Carroll still didn’t yield. The Lady Dragons scored the last goal of the game against Plano West in a 4-1 loss. Carroll finished the 2013 season at 30-3 and was denied a chance to win its first state championship since 2008.

Plano West proved to be a worthy champion. The Lady Wolves (29-0-3) successfully defended their 2012 state title. Carroll had advanced to the championship game with a 1-0 victory over San Antonio Johnson in last Friday’s semifinal.

“We focused on ourselves,” Colvin said of the final minutes. “We couldn’t sit there and walk away with the feeling that 40 minutes were going to define us. We were going to look at all of the things that we were able to come together and achieve.”

Overall, Colvin thought his team played a pretty solid game. But ‘solid’ would not make the difference. Perfect would. But what it demonstrated was that Plano West was just a little better in all areas of the game. They were a scouting headache because of their flexibility to play either a possession-oriented or direct style.

As he gathered information about Plano West last week and then as he watched them in the first state semifinal, he realized his team faced a tremendous challenge. Plus, this was arguably the fastest team Carroll opposed.

“Usually, you can pinpoint a team’s style,” Colvin said. “They make major adjustments during the game. This wasn’t a case of us saying, ‘This is what we need to do.’ They were just very savvy in both parts. That’s hard.”

True as Carroll’s style, the Lady Dragons saw the game slipping away with about 25 minutes remaining. Plano West had extended its lead to 3-0.

Carroll had some chances throughout with a shot that hit off the crossbar. But there were a couple of other shots denied.

“When you look at the scoreboard and there’s 22 minutes left, that’s going to be a time where a lot of teams are going think, ‘We’re done,’ and ‘let’s get out of here and not get embarrassed,’” Colvin said. “But we didn’t do that.”

Carroll’s future

When a program loses 15 seniors from a state semifinalist team, that would lead you to believe the team is going to struggle the following season.

However, this is Carroll. And there’s talent from all over this school district. The Lady Dragons lose the likes of Sophie Groff (South Carolina), Julia Dyche (Texas), Meghan Murphy (TCU), Tori Stephens (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), Taylor Valentine (Coastal Carolina) and MaKayla Braun (Oklahoma City University) to the college ranks.

There are 17 letter winners returning, however, including junior defender Jordan Connors, junior forward Payton Gruenewald, freshman forward Grace Cory, sophomore forward Kayla McKelvey and freshman defender Allie Luna.

Of course, McKelvey, Gruenewald and Connors missed parts or all of the season with injuries. This will be an offseason for each to regain complete health and help this program make another run.

“Those 30 wins are two seasons’ worth of wins for a lot of teams,” Colvin said. “Our JV lost only one game and I’m extremely excited about the freshmen we have coming.”

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