By Colin Bado, TSB contributing writer
Emotions ran high on and off the field at McKinney North High School on Tuesday night as the Lady Dawgs soccer team went head to head with the Lady Pirates of Wylie. Despite the Pirates’ preseason success and ability to score goals, North’s heart and resiliency earned them a 1-0 shutout.
While the action on the field was intensely physical, fans in the stand were equally intense. Loud cheers, combined with cries of outrage and taunting filled the stands. As the action packed game progressed, the tension in the stands began to escalate and harsh words were exchanged between opposing fans. The referee took matters into his own hands and dismissed a Wylie parent due to vulgar language and taunting.
The Pirates were North’s final test before district play begins next week against Denison. The match resembled that of a playoff atmosphere more than a non-district friendly. Regardless of the circumstances, the girls may not have been playing for a position in the post season, but they were playing for pride.
During the first half, North illustrated their skill by maintaining the majority of ball control. The girls were able to set the speed of play and create chances to put themselves on the scoreboard. Senior Jackie Bucy managed a few strikes at the net but came up empty handed.
In the 21st minute, a penalty allowed North an indirect kick just outside of the 18-yard box. Bucy directed the set play and crossed the ball into the 6-yard box. The ball entered traffic and worked itself past the goalkeeper, but a Wylie defender managed to clear it before it rolled past the goal line.
Late into the first half, Wylie’s Casey Gray managed to work her way deep into North territory and found herself going head to head with goalkeeper Clarissa Ledesma. Slipping past Ledesma, Gray had a chance to give her team the lead, but North defender Mary Watson threw her body into the ball’s path and redirected it away from the goal.
Throughout the half, North continued to put pressure on the Wylie defense but was unable to get past goalkeeper, Jennifer Hiddink.
Showing no signs of letting up, within the first four minutes of the second half the North girls managed three shots against Wylie.
In the 59th minute, North saw their best opportunity as Belicia Mendiola flicked the ball over the Wylie defense to Bucy. As Bucy raced for the opportunity to score, the Wylie keeper left the box and cleared the ball before Bucy could manage a shot. Wylie quickly transitioned from defense to offense and sent a ball flying into North ‘s defense. Wylie’s Addie Ault came up with the pass and broke away from the opposition. Similar to Gray, Ault worked around the goalkeeper and managed a shot, but again the North defense appeared out of nowhere and intercepted the ball before it could reach the net.
Sixty-four minutes into the match, North junior Hadlie Tucker passed the ball to Mendiola inside the 18-yard box. With skill, she maneuvered her way closer to the net, but before she could get a shot off Ault tackled her from behind. Mendiola went down hard inside the box and limped off the field with an injury. Ault’s actions resulted in a yellow card and a penalty kick. Tucker elected to take the kick and capitalized on the penalty, putting her team up one to nothing.
With 16 minutes remaining, the play continued to be physical. Bucy aggressively slid into a Wylie defender and came up limping. Apparently without thinking twice she walked off the pitch without a substitution, resulting in a yellow card.
The clock continued to tick down as Wylie made their last efforts to put up an equalizer. With one minute remaining, Ruth Blackburn of Wylie continued her aggressive play and earned herself a yellow card just before the final buzzer.
Moving to 8-1-3, the Lady Dawgs left nothing on the field but their best effort as they walked off the pitch with another victory under their belts.
The Lady Dawgs have one week to recover before they face off against their first district opponent in Denison next Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of Kellie Anfonso.