Sure, the Grapevine girls soccer program is on its way to playing in the Class 5A state playoffs. A win Tuesday night against Birdville would have given the Lady Mustangs (12-5-3, 9-1) the District 6-5A championship.
But the road to qualifying for them has been anything but scripted. Head coach Steve McBride has endured a season where at least 19 of his players have dealt with some kind of injury. That could be an ankle twist, a pulled hamstring, a concussion or a season-ending blow.
McBride said he has had at least four or five starters out for each of the first 20 games. Two seniors, who have provided leadership all season, had already been lost for the year with torn ACLs.
“We just haven’t been healthy at all,” McBride said. “We’ve just gotten into a situation where this team has had to find a way to make things happen. The silver lining is that we have a lot of players who have filled a variety of roles. We’ve got a wealth of experience.”
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The greatest example was Jan. 23 against McKinney. In a game in which nine starters were out, McBride had to field a varsity roster made up of six freshmen and junior varsity call ups. Because of the depth in this program, Grapevine still managed to finish in a scoreless tie.
Those freshmen have grown rapidly. The Lady Mustangs are receiving strong contributions from freshman defender Brianna Gajewski and midfielder Ashton Wright.
What that means is that while this team will likely play a consistent 14 in each contest, McBride knows he can turn to as many as 20. That speaks to many choices since the roster typically carries 23.
“As we get into our stride, I hope that we’ve gotten through the area where we seemed to take two steps forward and a step back,” McBride said. “The ultimate goal is to play seven matches and get to the final match [Class 5A state championship]. We know we’re a good team. We’re just finding that cohesion and getting everyone into those significant roles.”
The regular season concludes on Friday against Fort Worth Eastern Hills. The postseason begins later this month.
McBride’s health scare
About a month ago, the program went through a major turbulent time. Following the 8-0 win over Fort Worth Carter-Riverside, McBride said he wasn’t feeling well and was experiencing what was then believed to be a heart attack.
He was taken to the hospital via ambulance. He said tests were taken that revealed he had an attack of his pancreas. He wound up having surgery to have his gall bladder removed. Of course, he missed some time, including the only district loss to Birdville. McBride is just now getting back full time. However, he still has to take things methodically.
“It’s definitely been a tough go for me,” McBride said. “But I’m slowly getting back to where I was. Believe me, it’s something that makes you realize how you value everything.”
Colleyville Heritage update
The Lady Panthers (3-4-1, 7-6A) split their games last week with a win over Hurst L.D. Bell and a loss to Carroll. They are battling L.D. Bell (3-4-1) for the district’s final playoff berth. Colleyville Heritage played Coppell on Tuesday before meeting Richland in the regular season finale on Friday. L.D. Bell played Haltom on Tuesday before going to Carroll on Friday.