Northeast Tarrant

Lady Mustangs prepare for first-round foe Azle

Grapevine’s Samantha Gardner moves the ball against Birdville in recent play.
Grapevine’s Samantha Gardner moves the ball against Birdville in recent play. Star-Telegram

Steve McBride knew he inherited one of the state’s top programs in Grapevine girls soccer. But when he arrived from Austin to succeed Ryan Davis, he made it his mission to maintain what has been started.

So far, so good.

With the regular season wrapping up on Tuesday against Fort Worth Eastern Hills, the Lady Mustangs (17-2-1, 11-0 in District 6-5A) have already wrapped up the district championship. But they were also coming off an exciting shootout win over Birdville on March 10.

Grapevine operates from a 4-3-3 attack and has done exactly what McBride preaches: possess the ball. The offense has almost literally come from everybody on the roster. He carries 22 players and 21 have scored.

However, this program had to change its thinking. The program dropped from a would-be Class 6A to 5A, where the competition is completely different.

“Really, this program has been one of the most dominant in the state over the last five to seven years,” McBride said. “When we moved into 5A, we stressed to the girls that they had to maintain that 6A mentality. We put together a very challenging non-district schedule. So I really feel like the transition from Ryan to us has been seamless.”

Some of the notable games were a 2-0 victory over California Liberty as well as 3-0 over Dallas Hockday. Even the losses were pretty respectable, a 2-1 setback to Keller and 2-0 to undefeated Coppell.

Grapevine also has its Region I bi-district playoff matchup set. The Lady Mustangs will play Azle at 5:30 p.m. on March 26 at Saginaw High School’s Rough Rider Stadium. That will be a double header with the boys team, which will play at 7:30 p.m.

“What I like is balance,” McBride said. “We just have a lot of good players who share the ball. It’s a really good mindset to have.”

Top players

This team has produced some great leadership from several seniors in center back Sydney Smith and forward Hayley Bargery. Junior center midfielder Mac Taylor has been patrolling the middle of the field. Smith’s younger sister, freshman forward Sophia, is the team’s leading scorer with 13. Junior forward Michelle Kotlik bypassed basketball and stayed with soccer, while sophomore center back Haylee Hulse has helped the older Smith protect the net. Hulse is the daughter of former Rangers center fielder David Hulse.

In the net

McBride has split time between senior Reilly Ott and junior Katy Hutson. But he said he hasn’t decided how he will play things when the playoffs begin.

“Each of them has played extremely well,” he said. “It’s like a timeshare. They give us something.”

Notable

Junior forward Tori Sledge (ankle) was expected to return Tuesday after suffering the injury in January and missed most of the district season.

Colleyville Heritage update

The Lady Panthers (10-4-5, 5-3-2 in District 7-6A) had the week off for spring break. They concluded the season with games Tuesday at district leader at Coppell and then senior night on Friday against Richland. Colleyville Heritage has now officially wrapped up third place.

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