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Girls soccer: Ryan offense finds spark in 5-5A play

Profile image for By Steve Gamel / For the Denton Record-Chronicle
By Steve Gamel / For the Denton Record-Chronicle

FLOWER MOUND — Brian Beddow’s first season as Ryan’s girls soccer coach continues to be a struggle, but he can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Lady Raiders rallied from two goals down in Tuesday’s District 5-5A game at Flower Mound with three goals — two in the second half — to force a 3-all tie and avoid a fifth consecutive district loss.

“I knew when I took the job what I was in for, having to compete in a district like this,” Beddow said. “My focus was to get the girls to start believing in themselves, but I also told them before tonight’s game that I was tired of the moral victories and that we needed to come out aggressive. I’m proud of their effort.”

Ryan (8-6-2, 0-4-1 district) didn’t score a goal during district play last year and opened this year’s district schedule with three straight 1-0 losses before falling to Coppell 4-0 last week.

But the offense finally opened up against Flower Mound (5-6-3, 2-2-1). With Ryan trailing 3-2 late in the second half, Carissa Sanders outran two Lady Jaguar defenders and flicked a shot at the net. The ball hit the right post, but Sanders followed her shot and punched it home to tie the game with 6:17 to go.

It was one of two goals for Ryan in the second half. Brittany Eccles had tied the game at 2 when she finished off a deflection with 31:13 left.

Flower Mound answered less than three minutes later, as Gabi D’Alessandro ripped a screamer past Ryan keeper Taitum Wilson from about 20 yards out to reclaim a one-goal lead.

Until Sanders’ goal, Flower Mound seemingly had squelched Ryan’s comeback bid. With the 3-2 lead, the Lady Jaguars spent the better part of 23 minutes continually applying pressure on the Ryan defense. Flower Mound finished with 11 shots on goal in the second half.

“We changed some things up tonight, and I was real proud of the girls to come back the way they did with being behind 2-0,” Beddow said. “These girls didn’t have any goals in district last year, none through the first four district games this year, and we pop in our first three tonight. It was a good game.”

Flower Mound cruised to a 2-0 lead in the first half on goals from Emma Heckendorn and Alex Lowery. Lowery’s goal came with 12:04 left in the half when D’Alessandro’s initial shot flew high and just off Wilson’s fingertips. As the ball fell forward, Lowery kicked it into the back of the net.

Kat Knabe finally got Ryan on the board off a cross from Eccles with 5:41 left in the first half. The score remained 2-1 until Eccles tied the game just inside the opening nine minutes of the second half.