Lake Dallas coach Mandy Hall took her team onto Bronco Field and into a chilly Thursday night, each leading the other to a place they had never been: the sectional round of the Class 4A playoffs.
In the team’s first postseason appearance since 2009, two shutout victories had the Lady Falcons one game away from the Region I semifinals. In their way was Trophy Club Nelson, one of the top teams in 4A.
Nelson ended Lake Dallas’ postseason with a convincing 5-0 victory at Bronco Field. The Lady Bobcats advanced to face Fort Worth Arlington Heights in the regional semifinals.
The Lady Falcons finished the year with a record of 15-12-4 and made the deepest postseason run in program history. It was the first playoff appearance for Hall, a second-year head coach.
“This was something none of these kids had ever done,” Hall said. “I think we were just caught a little bit on our heels, a little awestruck at the level, the fans that we had — everything was new and exciting, and I think that caught us a little off guard and they put us away.”
Nelson topped Lake Dallas in both District 11-4A meetings this season, with Nelson (25-2-1) finishing second in 11-4A behind Guyer and Lake Dallas finishing fourth. Lake Dallas finished the year without scoring a goal against Nelson.
Nelson’s Darla Hyde netted two late goals to lead the Lady Bobcats, including a score in the 80th minute. Lake Dallas sent players up the field late in the contest, and Nelson capitalized with three goals in the final 10 minutes.
Almost as soon as the game started, the Lady Falcons were unable to contain Nelson’s attack. Nelson’s size and speed overwhelmed the Lake Dallas defense, helping the Lady Bobcats cruise into the next round.
Lynnsey Brim, Marchelle Davis and Jeyci Lopez also scored.
“They have some of the most talented kids I’ve seen,” Hall said. “They are very well coached, and they’re just bigger than us and they’re just faster. I mean, they are and they have very, very talented kids.”
It didn’t take long for Nelson to jump ahead in the sectional contest. In the fifth minute, Brim knifed through two Lake Dallas defenders and beat goalkeeper Ryleigh Bohnenstiel to the ball.
As Brim and Bohnenstiel tumbled to the turf, Brim’s shot rippled the left corner of the net to put the Lady Bobcats up 1-0.
“I told them before the game the first goal is huge, and I didn’t expect it to be that early,” Hall said. “I think we just came out a little slow, and I think people were nervous.”
Nelson controlled possession in the first half and kept the pressure on Lake Dallas’ defense.
In the 28th minute, Nelson’s Madison Hall was fouled and taken down from about 40 yards out, earning the Lady Bobcats a free kick.
Allie Rivers stepped up and lofted a cross for Davis, who flicked the ball backward and into the net, doubling Nelson’s lead and Lake Dallas’ struggles.
The two previous meetings between the teams served as on-field foreshadowing for Thursday’s game.
“We knew what was coming,” Lake Dallas senior Ashley Bortnem said. “But no matter how much you face a certain team, it’s not a surprise but you still know it’s coming.”
Trailing 2-0 at halftime, Lake Dallas stormed out of the locker room. While it didn’t have many chances to score, its best chance came three minutes into the second half.
Lake Dallas earned a corner kick, but a wide-open header in front of the goal sailed over the crossbar.
“We came out flying in the second half. I thought we were going to get one early and that was going to change the game entirely, but we just couldn’t hit the frame,” coach Hall said. “We couldn’t finish.”
Mandy Hall talked fondly of her 10 seniors following the game and said she doesn’t think she’s come across a better class in her time playing or coaching. Bortnem reciprocated the love for her fellow seniors.
“It’s not the way you want to end it, but looking back on it as a whole, I wouldn’t have changed anything that we did,” Bortnem said.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.