By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
WYLIE – After tornadoes swept through the Metroplex on Tuesday afternoon, McKinney North and Highland Park were finally able to meet up in Wylie on Wednesday night for their Class 4A UIL Girls Soccer Area Round match.
While the players on both teams came out ready to play in this playoff game from the opening kick, most fans and parents on both sides would agree that the referees would eventually decide the outcome.
In the 69th minute of a 0-0 match, the Lady Scots’ Katie Martin was advancing through the North defense when she suddenly dribbled the ball into two Lady Bulldog defenders. As she slid through the two girls, Martin appeared to be tripped right at the edge of the penalty box, meaning that Highland Park would have a chance to break the scoreless tie.
Highland Park would score on the penalty kick and grab the only goal of the match, officially ending the Lady Bulldogs’ season after a 15-6-1 overall campaign.
For most of the match Highland Park was able to stay on the attack and keep possession in North’s zone, but the ability of the Lady Bulldogs to step up defensively and make plays when they needed to be made was the biggest reason why the game should have gone into overtime.
When asked about his assessment of their performance, North head coach Lance Lovell had nothing but phrase for his player’s defensive effort, noting that the Lady Bulldogs came up short on the offensive end of the pitch.
“We counteracted everything that they did,” he said. “We played a heck of a defensive game; we were just unable to hold the ball long enough in the first and second half to really get any good opportunities on goal.”
North sophomore goalkeeper Clarissa Ledesma had an outstanding match between the posts, despite suffering through some nagging injuries throughout the game from a collision with a Highland Park player in the 5th minute of the match.
The hardest part of watching these playoff games can be the reactions from the players, regardless of class or playing status, after a difficult loss and knowing that the season is officially over and that the players around you won’t all be back next year. Most of the Lady Bulldog players were in tears as they listened to their head coach on the sideline one last time, while parents and a handful of students stayed around to congratulate the girls along the edge of the stands.
Even Coach Lovell needed a few minutes to collect his thoughts and share a moment with each of his girls, and when he was asked what his overall mood of the 2011-2012 season is, it wasn’t very difficult to figure out.
“This team far exceeded any belief and any expectation that myself or anybody else had this year. 15-6-1 after losing what we had last year, I am truly amazed at what we accomplished. Beating Frisco 3-0 in the first round and taking a very, very good Highland Park team 0-0 and losing on a penalty kick.”
“I am just so proud of how these girls performed this year.”
Photos by TSB contributor Shelby Tauber