April 19, 2013

Southlake Carroll girls edge San Antonio Johnson, advance to state soccer final

Defense and a goal by freshman Grace Cory put the Dragons into the title game against Plano West.

Southlake Carroll advanced to the UIL Class 5A girls soccer state championship for the first time since winning it all in 2008 after edging San Antonio Johnson 1-0 Friday at Birkelbach Field.

The Dragons will face undefeated defending state champ Plano West (27-0-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday in the state final.

“We’re just creating our own legacy,” Carroll senior defender Alison Savage said. “We have no fear in tomorrow. We set out a goal at the beginning of the season that we were going to win the state championship and that’s what we are going to try and do tomorrow.”

Plano West defeated Katy Taylor 4-0.

Carroll (30-2) took advantage of gusty winds at their backs to dominate the second half after surviving the Jaguars’ push in the first.

Johnson (21-5-3) had the wind in the first half and went to work. Though the Jaguars controlled possession for much of the half, Carroll keeper Victoria Stephens and the rest of the defense were able to keep the ball out of the net and headed to half with a 0-0 tie.

“We didn’t talk about the wind to the point where we wanted to play defensively the whole half, but I think when we got within 16 minutes left I felt like we were struggling a little bit to gain possession, and we started yelling at them to just get out of the half without going down a goal,” Carroll coach Matt Colvin said. “We were able to do that and again a fast start, whether it’s the first or second half, has been good for us lately.”

Carroll opened the second half aggressively with a two-on-two break in the opening minute but couldn’t connect on a cross and the ball was cleared by Johnson. Less than two minutes later the Dragons broke through on a goal by freshman forward Grace Cory on a perfect pass from senior midfielder Julia Dyche to take a 1-0 advantage.

“I knew we needed a goal; we needed to come out strong in the second half and we talked about it a lot at halftime,” Cory said. “When the pass came I just knew I needed to stay composed, then the goalie came out and I just tucked it away.”

The barrage continued over the next 15 minutes as Carroll controlled possession, continued to attack and created numerous scoring opportunities only to airmail a shot, mistime a pass or for Johnson keeper Madison Ersch to make a save.

The Jaguars didn’t get a decent look in the second half until 22 minutes had gone by, and it was a shot under pressure from 27 yards out that cleared the crossbar by some 5 feet. It was their only shot after the break.

Johnson made a pair of desperation runs in the final 1:30 only to have Savage steal possession and clear the ball.

“Our biggest thing is we attack as a team and defend as a team,” Savage said. “We do have a strong back line, but we also have to give credit to our midfield and even our forwards. Everyone defends on this team, and everyone attacks.”

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