Why? Well, it’s pretty elementary. The team that is trailing knows it has a chance to tie and maybe even win. Grapevine carried a 2-0 lead to the locker room against Lubbock Monterey in the Class 5A Region I semifinals last Friday in Wichita Falls. But McBride wanted to own a 3-0 advantage.
The Lady Mustangs had a couple of chances but missed. And then when Monterey got the early tally in the second half to narrow the advantage to 2-1, everything changed for the worse. A 2-1 lead became a 2-2 tie, followed by a 3-2 deficit and culminated in a 4-2 defeat.
Hopes for making a third consecutive appearance in the state tournament in Georgetown were denied. Grapevine closed its season at 20-4-1.
“We were comfortable with what we did in the first half and made the changes that were necessary,” McBride said. “But everything elevated and then spiraled.”
The margin for error in soccer is pretty tight but when breakdowns occur, they’re noticeable. McBride said a defensive miscommunication led to Monterey’s first goal. Several mistakes resulted in the equalizer. Some good luck for Monterey and bad luck against Grapevine gave Monterey the lead. The fourth was when Grapevine, chasing the game in the closing moments, brought its keeper toward the midfield. When she got beat, Monterey scored easily to put away the match.
However, Monterey could not parlay it into a state championship tournament appearance. Aledo wound up winning the Region I title as it defeated Monterey, 3-0.
What the run reminded everyone is that winning five matches to get to the state tournament is an arduous task. Often, it’s impossible.
Rosters turn over, so that creates a challenge. Look at the state tournament representatives this year from last year. Highland Park, Boene Champion, Leander Rouse and Aledo were not in Georgetown in 2016.
Grapevine went through a major roster turnover and sometimes played as many as four freshmen in meaningful games at the end of the season.
“The magical run is something you many experience only once, but we did it twice,” McBride said. “You quietly want to see the same level of success every year. But you also prepare for the possibility of a slip. We’ve won 10 consecutive district championships. So we’re doing some great things consistently.”
While the pipeline should provide more talent in the coming years, McBride will have to replace several seniors who were major contributors to these deep postseason runs. That’s senior captain and defender Samantha Gardner, keeper Leah Ferris and midfielder Megan Conte.
McBride said the other issue is emergence of the Development Academy that could impact incoming freshmen and other younger players. The DA is considered the highest level of play in the United States Soccer Federation. It is a year-round sport where travel is involved. McBride is concerned that several players will be forced to choose between that affiliation and his program.