Alspach scores to avoid district loss against Nelson
Guyer girls soccer coach Kenny Blevins can’t quite put his finger on what is causing his team to play a bit out of sorts this season.
But whatever it is almost earned them a district loss Wednesday night, when the Lady Wildcats got a goal from Auburn signee Hannah Alspach in the 77th minute to come away with a 1-1 draw against Trophy Club Nelson.
“We should’ve won this game,” Blevins said. “We had our chances. We had multiple chances. There’s just something that’s off right now. There’s a hesitation in our movement, and we have to get that worked out.”
Whether it was getting beat to balls or being a tick late on a shot, the missed beat in the defending Class 4A state champions’ attack was evident as they trailed 1-0 at halftime before coming up empty-handed on six good scoring opportunities before Alspach put in a rebound of a Brittany Crabtree shot to even the match in the final minutes.
“We’re just thinking about it one click too long instead of just reading something and going,” Blevins said. “It’s going to come.”
Guyer (10-1-2, 1-0-1 District 11-4A), the top-ranked Class 4A team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll, got seven shots on goal in the second half after going the entire first half without inducing a save from Nelson keeper Bonnie Ruten.
The Lady Wildcats controlled possession in the second half after Nelson (10-2-3, 0-0-2) capitalized on one of its two shots on net in the first half to take the halftime lead.
Madison Hall’s shot inside the penalty box after a throw-in from out of bounds gave the No. 6 Lady Bobcats the lead in the 10th minute, and Guyer couldn’t answer before the half ended.
In the 12th minute, Guyer’s potent scoring duo nearly hooked up when Alspach sent a lob over the head of a Nelson defender and onto the foot of a running Crabtree.
With Ruten charging Crabtree and out of her box, Crabtree chipped the ball over Ruten’s head and it narrowly cleared the crossbar.
With the half winding down in the 38th minute, Madison Uk had a point-blank shot on Ruten’s net that sailed just wide to keep Guyer off the board and without a shot on goal.
The second half saw much more pressure from the Lady Wildcats but, with the exception of Alspach’s late goal, the same result.
With under 13 minutes to play, Telia Young outjumped a scrum of defenders to head a ball on net that was punched out by Ruten. But other than Guyer’s goal, its best chance came in the 71st minute when a Nelson defender misplayed a ball near midfield that was corralled by Crabtree.
The junior forward, who has committed to Texas A&M, made about a 40-yard run with the ball and fired a shot past a diving Ruten that rolled mere inches wide of the goal.
But it was a Crabtree shot that rebounded onto Alspach’s foot minutes later that kept the Lady Wildcats unbeaten in district play.
Blevins said the expectations of playing as the defending state champion and the target on his team’s collective back have been evident, but that he hopes Wednesday’s dramatic finish can get the Lady Wildcats back on track.
“Everyone is bringing their best game against us,” Blevins said. “We have to be able to deal with that. We’re just now kind of getting used to it.
“The pressure is very intense. They’re putting it on themselves. Other teams are bringing it. It’s going to be that way. Until that last five minutes, we’re having a hard time finding rhythm. Maybe it’s something like that that’s going to wake us up.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.