The Guyer Lady Wildcats continue their quest to repeat as Class 4A state champions today when they play a Class 4A Region I quarterfinal match against Fort Worth Arlington Heights at 8 p.m. at Fort Worth’s Farrington Field.
When the teams meet, they will be looking at a near-mirror image of each other.
“I have a feeling that both teams will look very similar, and the game will be played in the middle third with the opportunities to get behind the other teams’ backs being very precious,” Guyer head coach Kenny Blevins said. “Both teams will have to take care of our chances when we get them.”
Guyer (17-2-3) is coming off a 1-0 defeat of Wichita Falls on Thursday night in the sectional round, while Arlington Heights (16-2) beat Burleson Centennial 2-0 on Friday night.
The winner of the match will advance to the Region I tournament on Friday and Saturday in Wichita Falls. If Guyer were to advance to the regional final, the Lady Wildcats could face District 11-4A’s top seed Trophy Club Nelson, which Guyer tied twice during the regular season. Last season, Guyer defeated Nelson in the regional final to advance to the state tournament.
Arlington Heights is coached by David Rubinson, who was the head coach of both the TCU men’s and women’s soccer programs, starting the women’s program from the ground up. He was also a coach in the United States Soccer Federation, coaching several national teams and was also an Israeli national team coach.
“I’ve been to several coaching clinics where he was a clinician and learned a lot about what he thinks about the game,” Blevins said. “Obviously, the U.S. Soccer Federation thinks a lot about him. It’s going to be a great challenge.
“I saw his team play [against Centennial] and they do some fantastic things. He’s making the most of the players he has through his training and their own athletic ability. I think it’s going to be a heck of a game.”
Blevins said the Yellow Jackets have a dynamic scoring combination up top, very similar to his own of Auburn signee Hannah Alspach and Texas A&M pledge Brittany Crabtree, both of whom are tied for the team lead with 21 goals.
Arlington Heights’ version of Crabtree is senior Riley Reynolds, who scored both of the Yellow Jackets’ goals on Friday, and its Alspach is senior Amanda Long.
“They stack their forwards up top,” Blevins said. “They have a tall, athletic, fast player who’s what I call a ‘target player’ [Reynolds] and [Long], who’s more of a playmaker who’s strong, very physical and great with the ball.”
Reynolds uses her height to excel on corner kicks, and Blevins said his team must guard against that and play to its own strengths.
“They will beat you on corner kicks, and that’s their plan,” Blevins said. “They play to their strengths. The person that serves it in puts it right in the vital area. They play to their strengths really well, and that’s exactly what I want my team to do.
“I want my kids to be simple with what we’re trying to do, not try to do something that’s risky and just keep the game simple and quick.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.