By Colin Bado, TSB Staff
Despite a home-field advantage, the McKinney North Bulldogs’ playoff run was cut short Tuesday night in an unsettling boys soccer loss to Frisco Wakeland.
With the UIL Class 4A Region II match at Ron Poe Stadium, the Bulldogs looked to capitalize on the home crowd and noise to their favor. Unfortunately, the Wolverines came out on top 2-0 to close the door on the Bulldogs’ season.
North finished 10-10 overall and 6-2 in District 13-4A.
Before North had the opportunity to establish its tempo of the game, Wakeland had scored within the first two minutes.
Working swiftly into North’s defense, Wakeland forward Tristan Honaker blasted a shot towards the right side of the net. North goalkeeper Bryce Clark dove and made an astonishing save. The ball rebounded off of Clark’s hand into the feet of Wakeland’s additional forward Corey Cantor. With Clark on the ground and no defender in the area, Cantor scored an unattended goal.
“Our guys came out a bit jittery,” said Bulldog coach Thomas Sills. The Bulldogs couldn’t shed the pregame nerves quickly enough, and the Wolverines took advantage of an anxious North team.
In the ninth minute, the Bulldogs began to get their bearings. Senior Morgan Dizney led the run into the Wakeland defense. Sophomore Kyle Biggio saw an opportunity for the equalizer and took a shot outside the 18-yard box, but pushed the ball wide, right of the goal.
During the 25th minute, North initiated a persistent pursuit against the Wakeland defense. North was able to maintain possession and keep the Wolverines on their heels. Dizney worked the ball deep into the defense and fired a shot, but sent it just over the crossbar. The Bulldogs saw numerous possibilities to even the score through an assortment of corners and direct kicks, but their chances were unsuccessful.
Before the half, Wakeland’s Brett Berdinsky cut away from North’s defense and raced towards the net. North defender Sean Martineau hustled and deflected Berdinsky’s shot before the ball could reach Clark at the net.
As the first half buzzer sounded, confusion between the referee and North midfielder Justin Adler led to a yellow card. Adler intentionally grabbed the ball moments before the buzzer, assuming the half was over. Without hesitation, the referee issued a yellow card to Adler.
During the half, Sills made adjustments with hopes tying the game. “I stressed crossing the ball to the opposite side of the field,” he said. “I wanted to switch up the ball because Wakeland was over-playing one side.”
The Bulldogs implemented Sills’ coaching and were able to work the ball deeper inside Wakeland’s defense. Despite their best efforts, North’s offensive struggles continued. Even though the Bulldogs created opportunities to score, their woes persisted as they failed to put shots on frame.
In the 48th minute, Wakeland’s Daniel Fernandez placed a precision shot on goal, but Clark quickly adjusted and dove to his left, denying the shot.
North’s defense was resilient throughout the duration of the match. After allowing the first goal, they played with a chip on their shoulder. Led by Captain Johnson Jones, the North defense played aggressively and refused to give up.
“We did not fold,” said Sills.
With five minutes to play the crowd’s chants escalated, the fans trying to motivate the Bulldogs comeback hopes. In the 76th minute, Dizney took a direct free kick and placed the ball inside the box. Wakleand goalkeeper Ben Hale snagged the ball before any player had a chance to make a play on it.
As the clock ticked down, North’s playoff run was fading. In the 77th minute, Wakeland put the nail into the coffin as midfielder Brett Berdinsky found the back of the net.
Despite the loss, Sills was proud of his players and was happy about the 2013 season.
“We played well,” said Sills. “During the first part of the season we faced a lot of tough opponents. Once we entered district we saw success and finished second.”
Sills will be losing some key players, including leading scorer Morgan Dizney, but he’s confident in the 2014 season.
“We start a lot of juniors and they’ll step up,” said Sills.
Pictures courtesy of Kellie Anfonsso.