High School: Cedar Park Vista Ridge

GEORGETOWN, Texas -- Frisco Wakeland’s girls soccer team had made a habit of using halftime to settle the nerves that arise during playoff matches and make adjustments to problems those nerves can cause.

Saturday in the 4A girls state title match, Wakeland head coach Meagan Wilson didn’t have much to say to her team between halves in a dominating performance that would lead to a 2-1 win over Cedar Park Vista Ridge and the school’s first girls state championship.

“Our halftime talk was very simple today,” Wilson said. “I told them to go out and play the exact same way they played in the first half and as long as they played the same way they played in the first half they’d be fine, and they came out and did that.”

Both halves were almost identical, not only in play, but in scoring.

Junior midfielder Katey Carmichael found the back of the net just four minutes into the game, ripping a shot from just inside the box on the right into the far left side of the goal. Carmichael was released on a breakaway by a through ball from midfielder Jennifer Perry.

“I saw it coming and I just went and the whole time I was just thinking about my whole team and how we are a family and how I wanted it so bad and I just put it away,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael missed two months of the regular season with a concussion but made an immediate impact when she returned to the field. She was Wakeland’s leader through the regional and tournaments, scoring the game-winning shootout goal in the region final and setting up the Wolverine’s lone goal in the state semifinals with a cross in the box. Her efforts and offensive productivity were rewarded with the 4A championship game MVP award.

“She’s really come on and peaked every single game and gotten better and better every single game,” Wilson said. “She just wanted it. She wanted it for her seniors and she wanted it for the rest of her teammates. The kid is selfless -- she’s absolutely selfless. She goes out and sacrifices every day for her teammates. She’s a beast.”

Wakeland began the second half with another score, this time off the foot of Ashley Kingston. After a Wakeland run was broken up by the Vista Ridge defense, a defender attempted a clearing kick that directly hit a teammate and fell right in front of Kingston’s cleats. A simple shot was all she needed to net what would be the game-winner.

“It hit off a bunch of people and I just knew I just had to do everything I could do to just get a foot on it,” Kingston said. “I just had to do it”

Vista Ridge found life with four minutes left in the game off a goal by Maegan Evans, who ripped a shot into the goal off a pass from Kennedy Brown in the right side of the box.

Wakeland’s state championship comes just a year after the boys team won a state championship and in Wilson’s first year as a head coach.

“I knew when we started this season that we had the talent to get here, it was just going to be a matter of if everyone would come together and gel and get through the coaching change and all that stuff.,” Wilson said. “I can’t be more excited – I don’t even think it’s really set in yet that this has happened. It’s just something that we’ve worked our tails off for this whole year.”

GEORGETOWN, Texas -- The short-handed Denton Ryan girls soccer team overcame the odds Thursday by forcing a shootout against Cedar Park Vista Ridge but ultimately fell in the Class 4A girls state semifinals, 2-1 (3-1 in SO).

Ryan standout scorer Stevie Harris was given a hard red card in the 29th minute, leaving her team a player short the rest of the match. Head coach Raiford Malone said the official’s explanation was that Harris continued to kick at the Vista Ridge keeper, Katie Turner, after she had possession of the ball. Malone said he couldn’t see if that was the case.

“It is tough,” Malone said. “You lose one of your leading goal scorers and it’s been a duel up there between those two forwards. Both of them feed off each other and work together. Then you have to adapt your whole lineup because you have to play man down, too.”

[+] EnlargeDenton Ryan
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comKirby Wright (left) helped short-handed Ryan survive the regulation period against Vista Ridge with a goal in the second half.
Vista Ridge (27-3-3) capitalized with nine minutes left in the first half, when Megan Dunnigan made a sharp cut into the box off the dribble and sent a slow roller past Ryan keeper Anna Kraft into the back right portion of the goal.

Ryan (26-3-1) struggled to find any offense through the end of the first and the beginning of the second half, but Malone changed his formation, moving another attacker on top. The move paid off with 15 minutes left in regulation when Kirby Wright hit the back of the net just inside the box off a pretty through ball from Lindsay Eccles to tie the score at 1.

“When we needed that goal, we kind of switched things around and pushed another up and took one out of the back. It was enough to get us that goal,” Malone said.

In the second overtime, Ryan dominated position but both teams were running too low on energy to see a run all the way through into the net.

In the shootout, Vista Ridge hit two of the first four and Ryan could only muster one. Sophomore midfielder Brooke Dunnigan was Vista Ridge’s fifth and final shooter, juking Kraft into a dive and side stepping for a clear shot into the net and sending the Rangers to the 4A state finals.

Both teams remained chippy throughout, resulting in three bookings -- including Harris’ red card. The physicality of the game, however, was nothing new to Ryan.

“We’re used to a pretty physical game,” Malone said. “Our district is physical. A lot of our region is pretty physical. ... We’re used to that kind of play. We play a high pressure anyway. A lot of times when you're playing high pressure things get a little physical.”

Ryan had only been in one other shootout this season, in a preseason match against Garland Naaman Forest.

“You’re not going to be able to recreate that atmosphere in practice, there’s just no way,” Malone said. “It’s just one of those things that, we try to give them some pointers -- try to give them some ideas -- just let them get into a routine of just going through the process. But you're right, you’re never going to be able to practice that pressure that’s your on down here at a state tournament.”