There is never anything ho-hum about making the playoffs for the Southlake Carroll girls soccer program.
While it is expected every spring, it’s not to be taken for granted, either. Matt Colvin’s Lady Dragons are in the playoffs for 19th consecutive season (17th under Colvin). But there may be a little more appreciation.
Carroll played in one of the toughest districts in the state in 5-6A, which featured other programs in Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus and Northwest Byron Nelson. Those three recently participated in either the Class 5A or 6A state tournament. Flower Mound is the reigning state champion.
The Lady Dragons are looking to return to Georgetown for the first time since 2013. Carroll (17-1-2, 11-1-2 in 5-6A) won the district championship and opens the playoffs Thursday against McKinney Boyd at 8 p.m. at Lewisville Hebron High School. Carroll’s 2016 run ended far earlier than expected when it was eliminated in the area round.
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“We had a lot of starters returning and players who had seen a decent amount of minutes,” Colvin said. “This is a group that has competed really hard and did what was necessary. There was a commitment to get better. But we get a lot of good talent.”
This team isn’t scoring at the prolific rate that it did in 2016. Going into Thursday’s game, the Lady Dragons tallied 67 goals. Last year’s team set the single-season school record of 143. But the reduction is a byproduct of the district. There’s been far more resistance than what Carroll has been used to facing.
Carroll’s defense has told the story of this season. It’s allowed only eight goals and just five of them in 14 district games.
“The district record told us that they were going to be able to withstand the rigors of everything,” Colvin said. “You can’t take nights off because you’re going to get challenged. What we’ve learned is that this was going to help us get ready for the playoffs. We’ve faced some really good competition.”
Senior forward Ally Griffin has been the most dynamic scorer this year with 22 goals. She’s been followed by sophomore midfielder Taylor Tufts, who has 13. Those are the only players in double figures.
Sophomore keeper Madison Martin has also taken the next step in her growth. She has pitched 10 shutouts and made 68 saves. Carroll has been involved in five 1-0 or 2-1 games and won all of them.
“Madison has been under more pressure than last year,” Colvin said. “She’s facing more shots and been involved in more dangerous situations. She’s either had to preserve a 1-0 lead or 2-1 lead. The good thing is that she’s been in those situations. But we’ve preached all year about defending with 11 players.
“Mentally, you’re going to get into 0-0 games that last that way for 20-30 minutes. Then you have to be able squeak out a win.”
McKinney Boyd, which finished fourth in District 6-6A, got off to a slow start but managed to catch some momentum toward the end of the season to qualify for the state playoffs.