Guyer head girls soccer coach Kenny Blevins said his forward duo of sophomore Brittany Crabtree and Hannah Alspach come around as often as a state championship.
The duo, which have run opposing defenses ragged, have helped the Lady Wildcats come within two games of a state championship. With a win today, the distance between Guyer and the achievement is chopped in half.
Guyer faces the Magnolia Lady Bulldogs in the Class 4A state semifinal at 11 a.m. at Georgetown’s Birkelbach Field.
The Lady Wildcats (26-1) are making their first state tournament appearance in school history, and so are the Lady Bulldogs (19-5-1). The winner of today’s game faces either Highland Park or Cedar Park.
So far this season, Crabtree (37 goals) and Alspach (22 goals) have combined for 57 percent of the team’s goals. Belvins said the two are far more dangerous together than they would ever be apart from each other.
“They stretch the defense out so much, it’s very, very much a blessing to have both of those players on the same team at the same time,” Blevins said. “If I was trying to defend them, I could almost say, ‘Hey, listen, we’re just going to do some damage control here.’”
Crabtree plays highest up the field in Blevins’ 4-4-2 formation, while Alspach tends to drop slightly into the midfield.
The two used to play together back when they were around 6 or 7 years old. Crabtree figures she’s played forward her whole life because of her height, while Alspach is much shorter than Crabtree but far more aggressive.
Crabtree said the feeling of reaching the state’s biggest stage still feels surreal to her.
“It hasn’t really hit me, I think, yet,” Crabtree said. “I think it’s just we’re going to play another game, but really, it’s one of our last games this year; or could be our last game this year.”
As strong as their offense is, the Lady Wildcats are just as impressive on the defensive end. Of Guyer’s 27 wins this season, the team has posted 18 shutouts including against Canyon Randall and Trophy Club Nelson in the regional tournament.
With the likes of senior Megan Stokes and junior Peyton Bucklew among the four defenders in the back, Guyer has only allowed four goals in six postseason games.
Stokes said when the offense is clicking, it makes things a little bit easier in the back.
“After that first goal, we’re all like, ‘We have one, but we still need to keep working,’” Stokes said. “It’s a little cushion for the defense, but we still know that we need to work really hard.”
That first goal has been key for the Lady Wildcats all season, Blevins said, adding that his team typically jumps on top of their opponents first, and once that happens, his team refuses to relent.
“We usually score and have some good fortune early, and the team really does kind of have a killer instinct,” Blevins said. “Regardless of the level of the other team that we’re playing, they just hold the hammer down.”
Guyer will receive an additional bit of good fortune for today’s game.
Junior midfielder Kaitlyn Caro will be back after missing the regional championship game against Nelson with concussion-like symptoms.
Freshman Gairy Natividad will also be back for the Lady Wildcats.
Caro and Natividad join a group of 10 seniors seeking to add to Denton’s storied girls soccer legacy.
Denton won state championships in 2003 and 2004, while Ryan made state tournament appearnces in 1999 and 2011. Now it’s Guyer’s turn to try to bring home the state’s biggest prize.
“I love the group of girls we have here, and it would make it 10 times better if we could win the state title for this team, for our school, for our families and for our city,” Stokes said.
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.