GAINESVILLE — Despite allowing a goal in the final minute of the first half, the Guyer girls used a controlling second half and a late goal from Hannah Alspach to seal a 4-2 win over Gainesville in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday night.
Guyer jumped out to a quick lead as Alspach scored on a header off a corner kick from Kaitlyn Caro in the third minute, and it seemed like the Lady Wildcats could be in for an easy night.
But that wasn’t the case as the Lady Leopards (18-9) came back in the 20th minute to equalize on a header from Maria Castillo. The senior forward beat Guyer goalkeeper Mikayla Renfroe to a bouncing ball off of a long-ball pass from midfield.
“That team played their butts off,” Guyer coach Kenny Blevins said. “They were very good. They were physical and didn’t give us time to do anything. They won most of the balls in the air. They just brought it. I feel fortunate to win that game.”
The game marked just the second time Guyer (22-1) has allowed more than one goal in a contest this year — the first coming in the Lady Wildcats’ only loss, a 4-1 decision against Wylie East.
Guyer, No. 3 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s final Class 4A poll, moves on to face district foe Birdville, which defeated Wichita Falls Rider 1-0 on Friday, in the sectional round at a site and date to be determined.
In the regular season, the Lady Wildcats beat Birdville twice by a combined score of 7-1, with a 5-1 victory over the Hawks coming last week in the regular-season finale. Birdville finished third in District 11-4A, which Guyer won with an undefeated district record.
The win over Gainesville marked the second win in as many playoff games over a Class 3A school, as there is not a 3A soccer division in the University Interscholastic League.
The Lady Wildcats defeated Mineral Wells 5-1 in the bi-district round Tuesday.
With the score tied at 1 Friday, the Lady Wildcats got out of their funk in a big way in the 27th minute, scoring two goals in a 32-second span — on Brittney Crabtree’s 30th goal of the season off an assist from Alspach and a point-blank shot from freshman Telia Young.
But Gainesville would not go away. The Lady Leopards scored a big goal with just a minute to play in the first half when
Whytneigh Duffie controlled a free kick in an open area in front of Renfroe and fired the ball into the back of the net to give the Lady Leopards a manageable 3-2 deficit at halftime.
“You thought at that point that we could separate ourselves and get going, but they never allowed it,” Blevins said of his team’s scoring spree. “We were fighting hard, but so were they. We had plenty of control, but we just couldn’t finish it.”
The Lady Wildcats controlled the ball in the second half, as Gainesville didn’t muster a single shot on goal. Guyer managed seven shots on goal in each half and was awarded six corner kicks in the second half alone.
Alspach finished with two goals and an assist, the same line she had in Tuesday night’s win over Mineral Wells, and Blevins said his junior forward, who has played in an attacking midfielder role the past two games, is on top of her game.
“She’s just a bull in a china closet,” Blevins said of Alspach’s aggressive play. “She cuts players in half to get to the ball. And she’ll get cut in half and get right back up, and she never whines or complains. She just goes.”