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Saturday, April 16, 2011
Saturday preview: Four area teams in title hunt

By Travis L. Brown

Four of the five area teams that made the trek to Georgetown, Texas, for the state tournament are still alive and can bring a title home to the Metroplex.

All four state title games will be played Saturday, beginning with Class 4A girls, then 4A boys. The 5A girls and boys, respectively, complete the slate.

Here is a look at Saturday's three games involving area teams:

4A GIRLS: Frisco Wakeland (24-2-1) vs. Cedar Park Vista Ridge (27-3-3), 11 a.m.

Nothing makes a team more dangerous in a playoff run than a goalie who is on fire. Wakeland’s Brittanie Barbero has been faced with tough challenges since the sectional round, playing with no more than two goals of support in each game.

She stepped up and proved her coach’s hunch correct, winning her first shootout of the season against Rockwall in the region final.

Vista Ridge proved to be a chippy, physical team in its semifinal win over Denton Ryan and looked comfortable in the shootout.

Wakeland might have a problem with that chippiness at the beginning, but coach Meagan Smith has proven she can get her players to make the adjustments needed at halftime to put away a game.

That halftime speech might be enough for Smith to lead a team to a championship in her first year coaching.

5A GIRLS: Colleyville Heritage (22-2-1) vs. McKinney Boyd (26-1-1), 4 p.m.

This has the makings of the best game in this year's tournament. ESPN Rise FAB 50 No. 2 McKinney Boyd is a strong team that attacks the ball aggressively on defense, making it difficult for teams to even start runs on offense. Boyd is also drawing off experience from last year’s state final, in which the Broncos lost to The Woodlands, 3-2.

Heritage, led by goalkeeper and UNT commit Jackie Kerestine, is the strongest defensive team in the girls tournament. This is the first time Heritage has made it to the state final since 1999, when it won the 4A state title over Friendswood, 2-0.

Expect a low-scoring battle that could easily be decided in a shootout.

5A BOYS: Southlake Carroll (27-0-3) vs. Round Rock McNeil (18-5-5), 6 p.m.

Carroll’s battle with Strake Jesuit in the 5A boys semifinal could easily have been the state championship game. Carroll’s attack was strong, but it could only find the net once on several great opportunities. The Dragons defense did well shutting down most of Strake Jesuit’s runs, but head coach Greg Oglesby felt his midfield could do a better job controlling position in the middle third to prevent the opponent from getting second chances at offense.

McNeil coasted through the majority of its semifinal against Brownsville Porter with a 2-0 lead, but a lackadaisical clear deep in the defensive box set Porter up for a late goal and gave it life. Any mistakes in the defensive third against Southlake just gives the already potent Dragons another scoring chance.

All of Saturday’s games will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable’s Texas Channel. Also, follow @ESPN_TLBrown on Twitter for updates throughout Saturday's games,