<p>A brace of goals secure a spot in the Southwest Finals against conference rivals TTI Bluebonnets. Get the highlights match summary here!</p>
The Lonestar WPSL squad traveled north from Austin to Frisco, Texas to take on FC Dallas after securing a playoffs spot during regular season play. A rain delay meant a late start time for the squad, with kickoff taking place an hour later than planned. After watching conference rivals TTI Bluebonnets eliminate the Southwest-North division champions Oklahoma City FC 4-1 in the preceding match, Lonestar took to the field in front of a sparse crowd at the Frisco Memorial ISD Stadium. Despite FC Dallas’ home field advantage, loyal Lonestar SC fans, friends, and family made their voices heard as the match went underway.
In addition to the familiar faces on the Lonestar roster, coach Wes Schevers also drafted fresh recruits to bolster the roster for playoffs - 16 year olds Hannah Solano (U19 DA) and Natalie Anderson (U19 DA), as well as goalkeeper Haleigh Heath (Abilene Christian/98-99 ECNL Composite), who would eventually play a pivotal role in the match.
Lonestar put the pressure on FC Dallas early, as veteran standout Jackie Pope nearly broke the deadlock early with a breakaway run, but failed to find the net. FC Dallas responded with surging runs forward via their speedy wingers, but failed to break the Lonestar ranks, as debut goalkeeper Haleigh Heath forced a fine, low diving save to keep the home team at bay.
Additional opportunities to find the net were present, with Erin Mikeska beating the FC Dallas goalkeeper, only to be denied by the crossbar. On the other end, FC Dallas were limited to strikes from long distance, as Hannah Devine and Brooke Dunnigan, who recently signed a professional contract with Bllk Kazygurt of Kazakhstan, marshaled the back line with rock-solid performances.
As the sun set in Frisco, the teams went into the halftime scoreless. Coach Wes Schevers reiterated the Lonestar game plan, and kept the ladies engaged towards breaking through the stalemate, as well as preventing the rapid FC Dallas wingers getting behind the Lonestar defense.
As the second half progressed, Lonestar increasingly dominated the game, winning multiple balls and controlling the midfield through the calm and composed Chrissy Pitre (LSU/96 ECNL) and Erin Mikeska (Rice/99ECNL). In defense, tireless work from current Lonestar coaches Ashley Schevers and Hannah Higgins.
The breakthrough came through when Hannah Meyer (Emory/96 ECNL Girls) sent a looping ball over the FC Dallas defense which Jackie Pope connected with while holding off the pursuing defender, before neatly finishing at the near post.
The second goal arrived 10 minutes later as the referee whistled for a penalty after a clumsy FC Dallas push sent Hannah Devine to the floor. Erin Mikeska confidently stepped up to the spot and dispatched a well-taken penalty past the FC Dallas goalkeeper into the top left corner.
With time on their side, the squad held off a flurry of late attempts and goal line clearances, including multiple saves by standout goalkeeper Haleigh Heath to keep the score at 2-0 up until the final whistle.
After the match, coaches Wes Schevers, Matt Armstrong, and KC Crabb reflected on the effectiveness of the tactical plan and efforts from the players:
“The keys to the game last - Having a central focal point to play through with Jackie Pope, utilizing our athleticism on the flanks through Hannah Solano and Autumn Wildung, as well as the transitional play while keeping our lines tight. Additionally, eliminating their main wide threats was something we managed quite well. Excellent performance all around.”
Catch the action live tonight as Lonestar SC faces fellow conference rivals TTI Bluebonnets in the hunt for the 2017 WPSL Southwest Conference final:
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