Alexis Smith remembers following Trophy Club Nelson’s first state semifinal appearance two years ago from a middle school classroom.
Because of her two goals Saturday in the Class 4A Region I girls final at Memorial Stadium, the freshman forward will have a front-row seat for the Bobcats’ next trip.
Nelson dominated Fort Worth Arlington Heights, which played short-handed for most of the match, in a 2-0 victory that sent the Bobcats to the UIL 4A state tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Nelson (22-2-5) will play at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. Friday in the 4A state semifinals at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown. Heights ends its best season in school history at 18-3.
Smith began the season as a defender and gradually moved up the field, becoming a forward in the playoffs.
Her first goal against Heights came in the 22nd minute off Chaney Brugman’s cross.
Heights had to become more defensive minded when Debbie Quintara drew a a red card in the 10th minute.
Yellow Jackets goalkeeper Christiana Romo, under fire throughout the contest, made six saves.
“They fought hard and they hurt,” Heights coach David Rubinson said. “You’ve got to be disciplined. The red card hurt us a great deal and changed what we can do.”
The Yellow Jackets tried to gamble late in the game, but Nelson countered as Smith finished the scoring in the 79th minute with an assist from Ansley Bunger. It was Smith’s fourth goal since moving up top.
“They’ve accepted me up there and they trust me up there,” Smith said. “Having a man advantage helped tremendously. There were a lot of holes in the field where we could slip balls in.”
Heights hit the crossbar in the last minute off Hannah Dixon’s free kick, but that was all it could muster against a Nelson back line that has allowed two goals in six playoff victories.
Nelson will be looking for its first girls state soccer title. The Bobcats lost in the 2012 4A state final to Highland Park in a shootout.