Every time they have stepped on to the field this year, Grapevine’s girls soccer team has been greeted far differently by opponents than last year.
The Lady Mustangs (18-5-3) had a struggle with Saginaw Boswell in the Class 5A Region I bi-district round this past Thursday at Saginaw High School. Met with push after push, Grapevine was able to hold off the Lady Pioneers, 3-1, to advance to the area round.
Grapevine meets Burleson Centennial in the area round, tentatively set for 6 p.m. Friday at Bedford’s Pennington Field.
Like any first playoff game, the favorite is going to have its nerves and uneasiness. But given that Grapevine is coming off a trip to the Class 5A girls state tournament last year, opponents know that and would love nothing more than to rise up and give this program their best shot.
What was bizarre about the flow of this game was that when Grapevine scored first, it flipped the script. Boswell played harder. Grapevine wasn’t in sync.
“Give Boswell credit because they came out with great energy and definitely took it to us,” Grapevine coach Steve McBride said. “We struggled to find our groove. That goal worked in reverse because Boswell played more frantic. We just weren’t as consistent.”
But when Tori Sledge scored in the 55th minute on a well-designed rush, that seemed to settle this team. Grapevine dominated the final 15 minutes. The jitters should be over. More work lies ahead.
Still, the opposition approach remains a constant. Teams have wanted to play Grapevine a little more physical with stops and starts in terms of plays going out of bounds or just getting after Lady Mustang players on free balls.
It was recipe that Wylie East used in last year’s state semifinals that led to a 2-1 victory. McBride noticed the difference in the season opener against Liberty from Brentwood, Calif.
“You could tell [Liberty] remembered,” McBride said. “But through the season, the energy level was higher. Teams wanted to press us more. We strive on playing in rhythm and if a team can get us away from doing that, it hurts.”
But it’s also been a different approach for McBride. He’s been coaching for 19 years. This is the first time where he hasn’t looked at his region and circled the team that he wants to knock off in order to advance to the state tournament. He has the team that’s being circled.
“Now, we’re on the other end of that spectrum,” he said. “But I also feel a sense of relief because we can play aggressively and still play our game.”
About Burleson Centennial
This is a repeat of the 2015 area playoff where Grapevine had to withstand a pretty good defensive effort before pulling out a 2-0 victory. The Lady Spartans are led by forward Hanna Mattinson.
“I’ve watched them play twice, and I walked away impressed,” McBride said. “They’re a hard-working group. Mattinson is a dynamic front player. They’re pretty steady in the middle and very organized.”
Colleyville Heritage update
The Lady Panthers (5-13-3, 5-5-1 in 7-6A) had their season come to an end in a 3-1 loss to District 8-6A champion Mansfield in the Region I bi-district this past Friday at Mustang-Panther Stadium.