If you told the Byron Nelson girls soccer team that its meeting with Birdville was going to be this easy, every team member probably would not have believed it.
Two tight regular season matches presumed the third would offer the same kind of outcome. After all, the right to extend the season was at stake.
Well, it turned out anything but that. The Lady Bobcats built on a 2-0 halftime lead and ran away from the Lady Hawks, 5-1, in the Class 4A Region I sectional round. Madison Hall and Ansley Bunger each scored twice.
“We played a great game,” Nelson coach Philip Salyer said. “The things we needed to do to make sure we were on top of, we did. We knew them so well by their strengths and weaknesses.
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“We just wanted to minimize their strengths. We did that. In the district games, we weren’t able to do that. That’s why we tied one of those matches (1-1). I really think this game was one of our best performances of the season.”
The Lady Bobcats (19-2-5) advanced to Tuesday’s Region I quarterfinal round where they met Kennedale at Fort Worth’s Farrington Field.
A team peaking can be such a difficult thing to control. Every coach tries to guide his team to that highest level at the end of the season. Salyer said this team is doing a better job of doing that this year than it did in 2014.
“If I look back to it, we played some of our best soccer earlier in 2013,” Salyer said. “But this year has a different feel. It’s been a long season, but the girls have handled everything very well to this point.”
We don’t know them – Part II
The Region I quarterfinal round of the playoffs usually presents an opponent Nelson has never seen. Last year, the Lady Bobcats faced Fort Worth Arlington Heights.
On Tuesday, Nelson faced Kennedale. Scouting reports were thin. Salyer and his staff were going on a crash course mission over the weekend and Monday to learn everything they could about the Lady Wildcats.
What was known is that Kennedale featured a talented midfielder in sophomore midfielder Allie Thornton. Thornton plays on the same club soccer team with Nelson sophomore midfielder/defender Katina Tsapos.
That said the uniqueness of playing at Farrington Field was hard to pass up. That’s where Nelson played Arlington Heights in 2013.
“I like playing in Farrington because it is such a historic place,” Salyer said. “We liked playing there last year. It’s a different look because you have the Fort Worth skyline in the background. It’s also a good meeting point because we’re coming from so far north and Kennedale is coming from so far south.”
Don’t look ahead
If Nelson won, it would advance to the 4A Region I tournament this weekend in Wichita Falls. The Lady Bobcats would face the winner of El Paso Chapin-Lubbock Monterey in the semifinal round. But likely sitting on the other side of the bracket is 11-4A rival Denton Guyer.
The teams tied in both of their district meetings this year. Everything would point to rematch of the 2013 Region I final that Guyer won, 3-1. Guyer won the state championship.
“I think the girls would be excited about that,” Salyer said. “But we can’t take anything for granted. If it happens, it would be a great regional final.”