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Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Previewing the UIL soccer state tournament

By Travis L. Brown

Five area soccer teams will travel to Georgetown this weekend in hopes of bringing a state title back up I-35.

Area girls teams ran a clean sweep of Region I and II, with Denton Ryan and Frisco Wakeland representing in Class 4A and Colleyville Heritage and McKinney Boyd for Class 5A.

Southlake Carroll is the only boys team from the area in the state tournament that runs from Thursday-Saturday at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown. The full state tournament schedule is here.

Here is a breakdown of the area teams' semifinal matchups:

Frisco Wakeland (23-2-1) vs. Waco Midway (23-0-5), 11 a.m. Thursday

Wakeland beat Rockwall on Saturday in a shootout thriller at Carrollton’s Standridge Stadium to punch its first ticket to the state tournament.

Wakeland is a strong possession team, working its triangles to move the ball methodically into the box.

Look out for speedy sophomore forward Maddie Lundberg to create a majority of Wakeland’s scoring chances. Her foot skills can either create space or a lane for a shot on net or can keep defenders busy, giving Wakeland’s midfield time to join the attack.

Wakeland’s defense is centered around senior goalkeeper Brittanie Barbero. Barbero is tall with a long reach and can take away crosses and chip shots. Coach Meagan Wilson went with Barbero in the regional final shootout for the first time this season and it paid off.

Wilson does not know much about Midway, but she has faith in her team.

“We’ve got to go out and trust the pieces of the puzzle we have,” Wilson said. “As long as we do that, then we’ll be fine. We’ve just got to go out and play within ourselves and trust that we’ll be able to solve things. My kids are pretty good at adapting to whatever they come against.”

4A girls: Denton Ryan (26-2-1) vs. Cedar Park Vista Ridge (28-3-3), 1 p.m. Thursday

Ryan marched through the playoff bracket with ease, outscoring opponents by an overwhelming 34-0 margin. Ryan’s closest contest was its 1-0 win over Wichita Falls in the regional final.

Ryan’s two regular-season losses came to 5A Hebron and Wichita Falls, which Ryan beat to make it to the state tournament.

Vista Ridge allowed only one goal in its playoff run, and that came in a 6-1 win over Gregory-Portland in a regional semifinal.

5A girls: Colleyville Heritage (21-2-1) vs. Houston Clear Lake (23-2-4), 11 a.m. Friday

If the cliché “defense wins championships” is true, ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 12 Heritage should be the favorite to bring back a title. The Heritage girls have allowed only three goals throughout the entire regular season and playoffs.

Heritage’s semifinal game against No. 11 Clear Lake is the most intriguing of all the area team games, matching up a fast offense in Clear Lake against Heritage’s shutdown defense.

“They’re a very technical and athletic team,” Heritage coach Misail Tsapos said. “It would take a lot of discipline on our part to make sure that they don’t get behind us and do a good job maintaining the ball going forward.”

In what could be a very close game, both teams have overtime experience in this year’s playoffs, but only Heritage has had a game go to the shootout.

5A girls: McKinney Boyd (26-1-1) vs. San Antonio Johnson (18-5-3), 1 p.m. Friday

ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 2 McKinney Boyd heads to the state tournament after taking down then-No. 4 The Woodlands in the regional final.

Boyd also knocked off No. 8 Belton in the regional quarterfinal, 2-1.

Boyd’s one loss of the season came to out-of-state opponent Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, which the No. 1 team in the nation.

Boyd's semifinal opponent, San Antonio Johnson, lost in the regular season to The Woodlands, 1-0.

Boyd coach Jimmie Lankford said he sees the matchup being much like the regional quarterfinal game against Belton.

“[Boyd] is probably the most versatile team in the state," Lankford said. "We have a lot of players that can play a lot of positions and a lot of different roles. I think our versatility makes us extremely tough to play against.”

5A boys: Southlake Carroll (26-0-3) vs. Houston Strake Jesuit (17-3-7), 4 p.m. Friday

Southlake went onto the playoffs ranked No. 1 in the FAB 50.

Southlake’s toughest matchups might have been at the beginning of its playoff run, starting in the bi-district round against Flower Mound Marcus. Carroll won the game in a shootout, 3-2, after a back-and-forth game between two fast sides.

Carroll is a balanced squad that moves the ball well from defense to midfield and looks to make deep runs with through balls to set up crosses from the sides.

The Dragons face No. 7 Strake Jesuit in the 5A semifinals, but head coach Greg Oglesby said he’s more concerned with how his team plays its game.

“[Strake Jesuit’s] got an excellent team from what I’ve heard and they play very well as a team collectively,” Oglesby said. “We’re going to have our hands full but it’s supposed to be good teams --  the four best teams in the state.”

If Southlake is able to settle into its game, Oglesby likes his team's chances.

“There’s four teams," he said. "Somebody’s got to win it. Might as well be us.”