The standings from District 5-6A and 6-6A would have suggested that Northwest Byron Nelson and Flower Mound should not have been a close bi-district playoff matchup.
But appearances are misleading.
Nelson won the 5-6A district championship. But the depth in 6-6A showed itself in the Class 6A Region I postseason last week. Flower Mound scored with 10 minutes remaining in regulation and held off one final push to preserve a 1-0 victory.
The Lady Bobcats finished their season at 20-2-1 and 12-1-1. Not that misery loves company, but all of 5-6A met the same fate, as every postseason team – Keller, Keller Timber Creek and Keller Central – was ousted by a 6-6A team. This is a district where the 2013 state champion (Plano West) and 2014 state champion (Lewisville Hebron) did not qualify for the postseason.
This game was somewhat similar to Nelson’s 2015 bi-district playoff against Allen. That game went into double overtime before Nelson got the goal to advance.
The Lady Jaguars’ goal really had no flare to it. A long cross ball went into the Nelson box, ricocheted off one of the Flower Mound players and rolled in past Nelson keeper Tatum Hightower.
“It wasn’t like she purposely shot it,” head coach Philip Salyer said. “We were just at the wrong spot at the wrong time in the box. It was a strange goal. But that’s what you’re going to get in games like these.”
The game played out as Salyer expected. Both teams played it pretty tight defensively. Scoring chances were few. Salyer said he estimated that his squad had maybe four quality chances.
Nelson’s final opportunity came shortly after Flower Mound took the lead. Junior forward Ansley Bunger wound up in a one-on-one situation against the Lady Jaguar keeper. But Bunger was turned away.
“In that district, their first six teams are really good and it reminded me of what it takes to win a game like this,” Salyer said. “Really both teams played well. You never want that outcome. But we didn’t get the roll we needed.”
Of course, Flower Mound will be familiar opponent for Nelson for the next two seasons. February’s UIL realignment placed those two in the new 5-6A.
Since the appearance in the 2014 Class 5A state tournament, Nelson has seen a more difficult postseason road. Last year, Carroll eliminated Nelson in the Region I quarterfinals.
“They did everything we needed them to do,” Salyer said. “Our girls played with a lot of heart.”
In 2016, Bunger will return along with midfielders Alexis Smith and Olenka Soko. But this team will need to rebuild the back of the field, including at keeper.
Dad wins this one
The Katina Tsapos-Misail Tsapos family soccer struggles are no longer an issue. Last year, daughter beat dad when Nelson knocked off Colleyville Heritage in the area round. This year, dad moved on to Flower Mound and won what you could call the rematch.
“Misail has a very organized defensive team with two really good center backs,” Salyer said. “They worked collectively as a unit. And Flower Mound has a better pool of players. He runs the game well.”
Katina’s career ended earlier than hoped. She will be playing in college at SMU.