GEORGETOWN — Based on the way the first half of their Class 4A state semifinal was going, it was apparent Guyer was determined to pull ahead of Magnolia before halftime.
When the first 40 minutes ended, Guyer had more than pulled ahead. The Lady Wildcats had sealed their spot in Saturday’s state championship game.
After 32 minutes of almost scoring, Guyer scored three goals in four minutes to propel the Lady Wildcats to a 4-2 victory Thursday afternoon at Birkelbach Field.
“It looked like if we remained patient we were going to get one in and we finally did, and the dam usually breaks at that point and it did,” Guyer coach Kenny Blevins said.
Guyer will face Highland Park in the 4A final at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Lady Wildcats are looking for their first state title in their first state tournament appearance. Highland Park, the defending Class 4A champion, defeated Cedar Hill 2-1 for their 48 straight victory.
Sophomore forward Brittany Crabtree led the way with two goals for the Lady Wildcats, with both tallies coming in the four minutes that swung the game in Guyer’s favor.
The Lady Wildcats (27-1) opened the scoring in the 33rd minute. Guyer junior forward Hannah Alspach cut back, stopped and lofted a shot into the upper right corner of the net from 28 yards away.
Alpsach’s goal broke the scoreless deadlock, and the Lady Bulldogs’ defense soon met the same fate. Alspach assisted as Crabtree connected for two more goals in the 35th and 37th minutes. That was all the scoring the Lady Wildcats needed.
“Once we get one [goal] in, we always seem to get more pumped,” Alspach said. “We start to play better, and we know that ... there’s more hope than there was one goal ago.”
The duo of Crabtree and Alspach fittingly cemented the team’s spot in Saturday’s final. Entering Thursday’s game, Crabtree and Alspach were Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in goals scored for Guyer and accounted for 57 percent of the team’s scoring.
“They’re a great tandem, there’s no doubt about that,” Blevins said of his forward pairing. “They’ve done it all year long, and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different now.”
While Crabtree didn’t score the team’s fourth goal, she did everything but stick the ball in the back of the net.
In the 59th minute, Crabtree fended off a defender and fired a shot from close range that was stopped by Magnolia freshman goalkeeper Sarah Hubble. Hubble couldn’t retain the ball, and the rebound slipped across the goal line to Guyer’s Taylor Heaton, who slammed the ball into an empty net to push Guyer’s lead back to three.
The goal stopped whatever momentum Magnolia (19-6-2) had following a goal by Allison Abendschein in the 43rd minute.
By the time the midway point of the second half rolled around, Alspach and Crabtree took spots on the bench and remained there for the rest of the game. Magnolia’s Valerie Turner scored in the 77th minute with most of Guyer’s starters sitting.
Junior midfielder Kaitlyn Caro returned to the starting lineup after missing Guyer’s regional championship victory over Trophy Club Nelson with concussion-like symptoms. Throughout the contest, Guyer controlled possession through the midfield.
Blevins said he wasn’t expecting his team to control the ball as much as it did.
“They [Magnolia] pulled a lot of players back,” Blevins said. “I think they were doing everything they could to keep it a close game, make it come down to a corner kick or some sort of set play.
“Once you drop that many players back in front of your goal, it allows your backs to hold on to the ball, and that’s very frustrating, even if that’s your strategy.”
Having disposed of the Lady Bulldogs, Guyer’s attention turns to Highland Park, the defending 4A state champion. Highland Park is playing in its eighth state tournament and carries a 49-game unbeaten streak into the final.
“I’m sure my kids know all of that,” Blevins said. “That doesn’t matter. All we have to do is worry about those 80 minutes that we have with them [Saturday]. It’s not going to be easy for either team. I think it’s going to be a great, competitive game.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.