Pressing offense and strong midfield play in the regional tournament were the Keller girls soccer team’s greatest assets in leading them to this week’s state tournament.
Coming off a last-second goal win over Mansfield in the Region I quarterfinals, Keller shut out Flower Mound Marcus and Southlake Carroll in the semifinals and finals, respectively. The Lady Indians won both games by 2-0 scores.
It’s now on to the state tournament in Georgetown, and their 22-2-2 record makes them the highest seed.
Keller is matched with Pflugerville Hendrickson (18-4-4) in the state semifinals, set to kickoff at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.
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The other semifinals game will pit Austin Vandergrift and Katy Thompkins.
The state championship finals will be played on Saturday at 4 p.m.
I knew when these [current seniors] were freshmen and we lost at the regional tournament, we’d have the opportunity to do something special.”
- Keller head coach Billy Griffiths
The confidence gained by the Lady Indians in beating Marcus and Carroll should carry over to the state tournament games, said Keller head coach Billy Griffiths.
“This weekend was huge for us. To not give up a goal against Marcus and Carroll — both teams that have been scoring a lot — and put them under pressure all game and winning the 50/50 balls, with the right mindset we can this thing,” Griffiths said. “Now we just have to go do it.”
The Keller offense’s aggressive style has taken advantage of attacking players to keep the ball in the middle of the field and out of its own zone.
That mentality has normally been on the side of teams such as Marcus and Carroll.
“Now that’s happening to us. We’re playing really well and focused. Everything is coming together for us at the right time,” Griffiths said. “Our defense is right on par with our attack right now.”
That attacking style and players’ ability to make penetrating passes can wear on conditioning during an intense battle. But Griffiths said his depth has been a great weapon.
“If they get tired, I can pull one out and put another one in,” he said of his midfielders and forwards.
Cami Floth, Rebecca Keane, Christina Gorman, Brooke Morgan and the other midfielders have been instrumental in getting the attack started and feeding forwards such as A.K. Ward, Berkley Peters, Gabriella Coleman, Sarah Gunderson and Karlie Johnson.
Griffiths said the roster of talent allows Keller to have a forward with the skill of someone such as Ward play in the middle with her back to the goal, making the attack hard to contend with.
“I knew when these [current seniors] were freshmen and we lost at the regional tournament, we’d have the opportunity to do something special,” Griffiths said.
Something even more special may be about to happen.