By Colin Bado, TSB Contributor
A hard-fought, physical win against archrival Lady Eagles of Prosper had McKinney North’s Lady Bulldogs celebrating with emotion on the field as the game ended with a nail-biting shootout following a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation play.
Dominating District 17-4A, the Dawgs and Eagles were competing for the top spot in the district as both schools rank among the premier teams in the Dallas area. The first time these two teams went head to head, the Dawgs left the pitch in Prosper winning 1-0.
Prosper came to McKinney with a chip on their shoulder, and intent on settling the score with the Dawgs, but were unable to do so. Led by junior goalkeeper Clarissa Ledesma, the McKinney North girls refused to let the Eagles win on their home field, and through sheer will and determination the Dawgs claimed the District 17-4A championship, winning in a heart stopping shootout. North won the shootout 3-2.
The vocal home crowd cheered in admiration as the girls celebrated on the field, and then lined up at the gate to further show their support as members of the Lady Bulldogs walked off the field.
“The girls played great tonight. They stepped up and rose to the occasion,” said North Coach Lance Lovell.
The first half set the physical tone of the game as three players were issued yellow cards in the first 20 minutes. North’s star forwards, Belicia Mendiola and Hadlie Tucker, both received yellow cards and were forced to leave the game temporarily.
Refusing to be negated, Tucker was persistent through the duration of the game. Despite the Eagles’ aggressive play, she was relentless in her attacks on the net. Tucker came close to getting an assist in the second half as she crossed the ball flawlessly to teammate Sandy Pachicano, who was denied by Prosper goalie Taylor Cavanaugh.
Throughout the game, Ledesma left the crowd in awe with her incredible saves. Fearless, she punched balls out that entered the box and denied Erin Sartain of Prosper, a breakaway by attacking the ball before she could manage a shot. Lovell described Ledesmas play by simply stating, “She was on fire.”
North defender Keirsyn McDaniel played soundly as she refused to allow the Prosper forwards from attaining breakaways by clearing away balls that threated the North defense.
Senior captain Mikey Mendiola scored North’s first goal in 53rd minute with an astounding strike from 25 yards out. The ball bent perfectly into the “upper 90” placing it out of reach for Cavanaugh to make a play.
Up one to nil, the North girls played with their backs up against the wall, fighting desperately to keep the ball out of the net. Prosper forward Barbra Pascale led the attack trying to score the equalizer. As the clock began to wind down, it appeared as though North would walk away with a win in regulation, but with less than two minutes to play, a last ditch effort by Prosper created chaos in North’s box. The ball bounced aimlessly and was found by Pascale who managed to beat Ladesma, tying the score at one.
Belicia Mendiola single-handedly dribbled through the entire Prosper defense attempting to score the go-ahead goal with only seconds to play, but the buzzer sounded, and regulation ended in a tie.
In the shootout, both Mendiola sisters and Jackie Bucy scored for North. Ledesma had already made one save and needed one more to close out the game. Brooke Bednarz of Prosper shot the ball to the lower right hand corner; Ledesma dove and punched the ball away making the North girls District 17-4A champions.
North’s final district game will be played at home at 5:30 p.m. against Anna on Friday, March 21st.
For coverage of the rest of MISD soccer please go to the Sports section or click here for Tuesday’s Scoreboard results.
Top photo: North girls celebrate on the field following win over Propser. Photo courtesy of Kellie Anfonso. For more photos, click here.
Bottom photo: North Keeper Clarissa Ledesma makes another save. Photo courtesy of Sawyer Erickson.