With a strong wind at their backs in the first half and strong legs in the midfield, Grapevine players knew the time to strike was early.
At the same time, Coppell (13-4-7) didn’t let it happen, holding Grapevine (18-4-3) scoreless in the first half and putting away the girls 5A bi-district match in the second half to win 1-0.
Coppell sophomore Shay Johnson headed in a corner kick from Liat Even in the 59th minute.
“At halftime our girls were like, ‘We’re not losing this,’ ” Coppell head coach Chris Stricker said. “They knew that if we could go 0-0 in the first half and not give up a goal against the wind, we would have the advantage in the second half.”
The goal came on the third corner kick of the match, Coppell’s second.
A low number of corner kicks, as well as shots on goal, resulted from physical play of both teams. Coppell won most of the battles near or at the ball, using physical tackles to spring odd-man rushes downfield.
“They were winning a lot of physical battles we were not, and they were able to counter well,” Grapevine coach Ryan Davis said.
Grapevine had a chance to tie a minute later, when a penalty kick was awarded for a player tackled in the box. However, the would-be equalizer gave Coppell momentum when keeper Rachel Johnson came up with the save on a shot that was low and to the left.
Johnson had split time through the season with Laura Hogan, but took over the full-time role four weeks prior when Hogan suffered an injury, Stricker said.
Grapevine managed a few more offensive bursts in the second half but was always one man short of creating a quality shot on goal.
“They played physical, and it wasn’t the kind of build-up we were able to do,” Davis said. “When we did get the ball behind them we were disconnected. A lot of it was they defended really well, and they defended against our whole midfield line really, really well.”
While on paper, Grapevine entered the bi-district match as a No. 1 seed and Coppell a No. 4, it wasn’t your typical first-round pairing with the district Coppell had to face, Davis said.
“They’re a No. 4 but they’re not a No. 4. They’re great,” he said.