The Fort Worth Nolan Catholic girls ran into an old nemesis Friday in the TAPPS Division I state soccer semifinals in Houston. The Bears have ended Nolan’s season often.
Dallas Ursuline, which no playoff team in TAPPS has ever solved, defeated the Vikings 3-0 Friday at Awty International School to move into Saturday’s state championship game. Ursuline will attempt to win its 23rd consecutive state title.
“We definitely did the things we wanted to do,” Nolan coach Jay Fitzgerald said. “When we got closer to goal, we weren’t as sharp as we were during the year. It was a good game from both teams.”
Neither team scored in the first half as it seemed both were playing cautious to avoid mistakes. Second-half play was more direct and provided chances at both ends.
The Bears finally broke through with 16 minutes remaining. Ursuline added another goal 10 minutes later and then a third late. Madison Haley, a member of the U.S. under-17 national team, scored all three for the Bears.
“There’s a reason she plays where she plays and why she plays for our country,” Fitzgerald said.
Despite being down two goals with just six minutes to play, Nolan never felt out of the contest.
“Even after they scored two, I thought we were going to score to come back. I never counted our girls out, ever,” Fitzgerald said.
“We scored 140 goals during the year and are good in those areas of the field, it’s just today we weren’t as sharp, we weren’t as poised. We kind of panicked a little bit,” he added. “I think if we could have scored the first [goal], I think it would have been a little different mentality-wise.”
Nolan still finished with one its most successful seasons in school history, going 24-2-5.
“We grew a lot as a program,” Fitzgerald said. “We proved we are one of the best teams in the country playing as well as we did throughout the year. I just feel bad for the girls because it’s a true family.”
Division III boys final
In only its fourth season as a program, Colleyville Covenant won its second consecutive TAPPS Division III boys soccer title — and did so in dramatic fashion — Friday at Awty International School in Houston. The Cougars got a scrappy goal from Matthew Schwebke with about three minutes remaining for a 2-1 win over Houston Cypress Christian.
The Cougars trailed 1-0 at halftime, and coach Nathan Nipper’s heart-to-heart with his team must have worked. Colleyville Covenant got on the board in the first minute of the second half to level the score, and then controlled much of the remainder of the game.
“From the tying goal on, I felt like it was our game to lose,” Nipper said.
He felt all season that his team had the ability to repeat as champions.
“We didn’t talk about it throughout the year in practice, but I really felt like this team had the potential to go back. We were a little younger but I think we were a more technically skilled team,” he said.
Division III girls semifinal
The Colleyville Covenant girls saw their state tournament end in the semifinals against undefeated, defending state champion Bullard The Brook Hill. The Cougars lost 2-0 but head coach Scott Friedman felt his team gave the eventual two-time champs a significant test.
“We gave them all they could handle; we represented ourselves well,” he said. “We went toe-to-toe with the champs, so we feel very proud about how we performed.”
Despite coming up a game short, the Cougars believed they exceeded expectations this year.
“We were the ones crashing the party,” Friedman said. “We didn’t belong there. We’ve had strong teams in the past and we have a reputation of being there, but this year was supposed to be a rebuilding year.”
Division II boys semifinal
Grapevine Faith advanced to its fourth consecutive state title game with a 4-0 shutout of Fort Worth Southwest Christian in their semifinal matchup at St. Thomas High School in Houston.
The Lions with face Houston Awty International (25-4-4) in the championship game at noon Saturday at Awty.