The theory goes that it’s hard for one sports team to beat another three times in the same season because the two sides get to know each other so well.
But Grapevine’s 4-1 Class 5A Region I championship victory over District 6-5A rival Birdville Saturday at Wichita Falls’ Memorial Stadium suggested another theory: sometimes one team is just better. The Lady Mustangs (23-2-1) are advancing to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
An early Birdville goal was quickly equalized.
“I challenged the girls from the first practice to get physically prepared and get in the mindset of doing great things,” first-year coach Steve McBride said. “We started talking about getting to the state finals in the offseason. Our confidence grew.”
McBride reminded his team that while it is a challenge to beat a team three times, it had already solved that puzzle twice. In fact, in the second meeting, Grapevine escaped as it won on penalty kicks, 3-2. Grapevine was two kicks away from losing that match.
Down 1-0, the Lady Mustangs seemed to exhale. Sydney Smith scored the equalizer. Tori Sledge put Grapevine ahead for good at 2-1. A Birdville own goal stretched it to 3-1. Maria Jacobson added the finishing touch.
“We really looked at it as a little hill to climb, but that we were capable of climbing it,” McBride said. “We just have a lot of girls who understand every situation and how to react. We’ve been tested a lot.”
Setting the state field
Grapevine is a newcomer among the prestigious programs competing in the Class 5A girls state tournament Thursday and Saturday at Birkelbach Field at Georgetown High School.
Grapevine meets Wylie East (19-4-2) in the first Thursday semifinal at 9:30 a.m. College Station (27-0-1) meets Austin Vandergrift (20-3-3) at noon. The championship game is set for 11 a.m. Saturday.
Vandergrift is the defending Class 4A (now 5A) state champions. College Station has the best record of any of the semifinalists. Wylie East played in the state semifinals last year.
“What a great field this is,” McBride said. “You can have people who think 6A is the best level of soccer. But when you’re good, you’re good. There is not a drop off with any of the teams.”
McBride said that he and his staff are slowly starting to collect information on the Lady Raiders. They will collect more as the week progresses. The team is expected to leave for Central Texas on Wednesday. It’s a bit of irony for McBride, who coached soccer at Georgetown from 2007-2014.
“It’s a little sweeter,” he said, “only because of where the state tournament is. But this is about the program. Wylie East is a fast and physical team. But all four teams are outstanding.”
Third time is a charm
This is McBride’s third appearance in the state tournament but his first as a coach. He was the keeper on the 1991 and 1992 Plano boys Class 5A state championship teams. The 1991 team defeated Klein, 4-2. The 1992 Wildcats defeated … Grapevine, 1-0.