Other than the weather Friday night at Denton’s Bronco Field, there weren’t many aesthetically pleasing things about the Class 4A area-round playoff game between Lake Dallas and Wichita Falls.
Even the game’s only goal was far from pretty. But the faces of the Lake Dallas players following the game indicated that they didn’t mind at all.
The Lady Falcons slipped past Wichita Falls with a 1-0 victory. Lake Dallas will play Trophy Club Nelson at 6 p.m. Thursday at Denton.
For the second straight game, Lake Dallas’ defense refused to surrender a goal, and sophomore goalkeeper Ryliegh Bohnenstiel picked up her 14th shutout of the season.
“I’ve said it all year long,” Lake Dallas coach Mandy Hall said. “I think we have the best defense in the district. I’d take my kids over anyone. They just play so well together. They’re all top-level players.”
The Lady Falcons (15-11-4) won their second game in their first postseason appearance since 2009, an appearance that failed to produce a win.
Lake Dallas’ defense had a cushion to work with, thanks to senior forward Kristi Lantrip.
In the 10th minute, Kelly London heaved a long throw-in to the penalty area. Lantrip deftly flicked it behind her, and the ball trickled across the face of the goal and crept inside the far post to put the Lady Falcons ahead 1-0.
Lantrip said she expected Wichita Falls goalie Kagen Dunn to keep the ball out of the net. The senior said she’s only scored like that a couple of times in her career.
Hall wasn’t expecting the deflection to result in what ended up as the game’s only goal.
“I think our team expected somebody to finish that, and I think their team expected someone to clear it,” Hall said. “And no one did.”
Lake Dallas freshman forward Cambria Johnson, who scored two goals in the team’s win over Aledo on Tuesday, and starting senior Ashley Bortnem missed Friday’s game because of concussions, Hall said. Without those two starters, Hall was forced to shuffle her lineup and play people out of their normal position.
“We definitely missed them both on the field, but I think the kids stepped up well and played in their spots and did what they could,” Hall said.
Lantrip’s goal was the only solid scoring chance for either team in the first 40 minutes. Both teams struggled to produce a potent chance in the first half. Wichita Falls’ best opportunity came on a cross that looped across the front of the goal on the left side, but the Lady Coyotes (12-8-2) couldn’t produce a shot on goal.
Lake Dallas almost doubled its lead late in the contest when the Lady Coyotes couldn’t clear a ball and a shot from Regan Steider hit the far post and bounced back toward the front of the penalty box.
But that was it for quality chances. Wichita Falls couldn’t get its attack going and showed signs of frustration later in the contest. Wichita Falls freshmen Crissa Anderson and Madison Sapp gave blatant-enough shoves to draw groans from the Lake Dallas bleachers.
The only card shown in the contest came in the final minutes to Lake Dallas’ Laine Saralegui.
It appeared Saralegui unintentionally kicked a ball before a Wichita Falls free kick. She was shown a yellow card by the head referee and flipped up her arms in disgust, one of them covered by a bulky green cast.
Hall said the physicality of the contest went against her team — one already dealing with its share of worries.
“I felt like it probably hurt us,” Hall said. “We had a lot girls banged up, and to have that physical of a game that tight for so long, I don’t think it helped us.”
Now Lake Dallas will face Nelson, the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s No. 5 team in Class 4A. The Lady Falcons lost both contests this season to the District 11-4A runner-up. Lantrip said she thinks that Lake Dallas, the fourth-place finisher in 11-4A, will have a chance to pull off the upset.
“We kept up with them,” Lantrip said. “We have a good shot.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.