If you have competed in athletics, you know that there is no in between.
There is either going to be great joy or great sorrow. You could understand how the Grapevine girls soccer team felt this past Saturday in Georgetown.
They watched an early 2-0 lead and excitement fade into desperation and devastation. Frisco Centennial won the Class 5A state title, 3-2, on penalty kicks.
One can only imagine what the post-game conversation was like between head coach Steve McBride and his players. It’s not a talk that any coach wants to have with his team when it’s on the losing end of a state championship game. Grapevine finished 20-7-3.
However, it’s a talk that any of those players understood could happen. Athletics isn’t about adversity. It’s about how you respond to it.
“The first message is that this is a cruel sport,” Grapevine coach Steve McBride said. “I told them how proud I was of them, because there were a lot of people in the area who didn’t think they could go on to the state tournament after the start we got off to.
“We lost six games and were dealing with a lot of injuries. We really persevered through everything to get back down there.”
To be that close. To know there was a real chance to wear a gold medal, and return to Northeast Tarrant County with a piece of hardware. Grapevine came within three minutes and 39 seconds of seeing those dreams come true.
But when Centennial tied the game late in regulation and pushed it into overtime, the Lady Mustangs were fighting a battle that became more than just Centennial. They had to pick themselves up mentally. It was a chore. When they didn’t execute in the penalty kick phase as they would have wanted to, it led to disappointment.
“It was really difficult,” senior Jordan Slim said, “especially knowing that we were up and that we had the game and let it slip through our fingers. But you can’t change anything about it now.”
There are two ways this program can react to this. It can let the moment become bigger and allow the outcome to settle over this program like a fog which it can’t fight through. Conversely, McBride’s program can use this as motivation of not settling and continuing to push to return to the state tournament and finish the job. That’s the theme McBride has for his returning players and the ones who aspire to be on the 2017 varsity team.
“The great programs reload,” McBride said. “We’ve got a group that can carry the torch. Ultimately, you’re going to lose seniors every year. But it’s also a moment for somebody else to step up.
“We’re going to set lofty goals. I like playing in April. We’ll back in 2017.”
Making the right move
We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize what former Colleyville Heritage girls soccer coach Misail Tsapos accomplished. In his first year directing the Flower Mound girls program, he led the Lady Jaguars to the Class 6A state title Saturday.
Flower Mound, which finished in fourth place in District 6-6A, got hot at the right time. This team defeated Katy Cinco Ranch in the semifinals and then beat Highland Park in the championship game, 2-1 (5-3 on penalty kicks).
Tsapos has long been recognized in the high school soccer coaching community as one of the best strategists in the game. He proved it wherever he was between Mansfield, Justin Northwest, Colleyville Heritage and Flower Mound.
Now, Tsapos finally earns that elusive first state championship to augment what is already a distinguished career.
Eric Zarate contributed to this report.