FORT WORTH — From the beginning of Tuesday’s Class 4A playoff opener, it was clear Mineral Wells had an uphill battle on its hands against Guyer.
And after the Lady Wildcats (21-1), the third-ranked team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s 4A poll, peppered Mineral Wells with shots through the game’s first 20 minutes, the expected rout began for Guyer midway through the first half.
Hannah Alspach found Samantha Sanders inside the box for an easy goal, Alspach’s 10th assist of the season, and just more than three minutes later, Alspach scored her 17th goal with a 25-yard blast from the right side, and the Lady Wildcats went on to beat Mineral Wells 5-1 to advance to the area round of the playoffs.
Guyer moves on to face Gainesville, the third-place team out District 9-4A, at 8 p.m. Friday in Gainesville.
“We kind of expected to beat [Mineral Wells],” said Alspach, who ended up with two goals and an assist. “I was really nervous at the beginning that it wasn’t going to turn out the way we expected, but once we got in our groove it was all good, and after the first goal I knew we’d be OK.”
The Lady Wildcats finished the night with 17 shots on goal, with 10 coming in the first half, while Guyer goalkeeper Mikayla Renfroe was forced to make just two saves.
Mineral Wells’ goal came on a penalty kick with 10 minutes to play from Molly Clarke.
Guyer also got goals from Megan Stokes and Taylor Heaton.
Guyer coach Kenny Blevins, whose team is coming off a perfect run through District 11-4A and its first district championship, said the light came on for his team after Alspach was moved from forward to an attacking midfield position just minutes before the first goal.
“What happens is teams get so focused on those two players,” Blevins said of Alspach and sophomore forward Brittney Crabtree, who leads the team in goals (29) and is second in assists. “They just look at [Alspach] and [Crabtree], so we drop a player like that into the midfield and the other team’s responsibilities have changed. Then it’s hard for them to adjust.”
Nursing a 3-0 lead that could have been larger, Blevins removed his two leading scorers, Alspach and Crabtree, with just less than 30 minutes remaining in the game.
“As much as I would love to watch them play, we’ve got to be smart here,” Blevins said. “I know they wanted to stay in the game, but I thought we might be able to go ahead and weather that.”
Guyer moves forward to face another Class 3A school — Texas currently does not have a 3A soccer division — and Blevins said he wants more focus from his team Friday in what will be the second playoff game in the careers of most of his players.
“They’re kids,” Blevins said. “They know they’re district champions and these guys were in fourth place, and they let things like that let them think they can not play at 100 percent and be OK. We’ve got to work on that.”