First-place Argyle gets nipped by Coyotes
ANNA — On a warm, windy evening on Monday, March 6, Anna gave the top team in District 5-4A all it wanted before falling, 3-2. Battered by a 25-mile-per-hour south wind throughout the contest, each team prevailed with the gale at their back: Argyle, 3-1, in the first half; Anna, 1-0, in the second. But it was perhaps the offensive force of nature of one Dillon Sadler that spelled Anna’s fate. The four-starter, who’ll play Division I soccer next year, danced and dodged through Coyote defenders for two first-half goals that tilted this one in the Eagles’ favor.
“We’ll truly miss him,” Argyle head coach Daniel Lundy said of Sadler. “It will be hard to replace him. He can take over a game at times and did tonight, early.”
“(Sadler) is really dangerous,” Anna head coach Matt Ellis said. “He’s a really solid player, committed to play at Campbell University, a D-I school.”
Ellis added with a grin, “I’m glad he won’t be back anymore.”
Down, 2-0, the Coyotes would answer with a goal, but the Eagles added another just 75 seconds before halftime to lead, 3-1, at the break. That one, by sophomore Connor Banar off a penalty kick to the net, was a momentum-killer for Anna.
“It was disappointing to give up the goal right before halftime, with a minute left,” Ellis said. “That was a damaging one to give up. … You kind of dip a little bit when you give up that one before halftime. It’s just natural.”
With the win, Argyle (6-0, 11-3-5) completed a clean sweep through district play.
“We’ve been lucky and blessed by the fact that we’ve avoided major injuries,” Lundy said.
Lundy also complimented his Anna counterpart.
“Coach Ellis has done a tremendous job with those kids, from the first game and through the season,” he said. “He’s got them in a position to finish second. He really and truly came out here and fought his guts out.”
The Coyotes (2-3, 8-10-2) have one district game left, at Gainesville on March 13, and it will decide the district’s second playoff seed.
“I’m pleased with the way it stands,” Ellis said. “We have the tie-breaker (over Gainesville) right now. If we tie, we’ll finish second. They have to win to finish second.”
Either way, Anna will face Paris in a playoff warm-up game on March 20.
After Sadler’s second goal, it took the Coyotes only 35 seconds to storm back on a Jose Rivas shot off of Carlos Garrido’s centering pass from the left. It was the only goal scored against the wind this night.
“That was a fantastic counter-attack by them,” Lundy said. “We’re down there shooting and the next thing we know it’s in the back of our net.”
“That combination with those two (Garrido and Riva), when they’re on, it’s a hard combination,” Ellis said. “They’re both physical players.”
With Anna down, 3-1, midway through the second half, a hard-charging attack and goal by Garrido let Argyle know the match wasn’t over. Locked shoulder-to-shoulder in a dead sprint with an Eagle defender, Garrido reached out and stroked the ball into the left side of the net from about 20 yards out. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, there the score would remain.
“Overall, in the second half, I thought they fought hard, didn’t give them a lot of chances and created a couple,” Ellis said. “I’m pleased with the way they played — much better than our first time around.”
Argyle defeated Anna, 4-0, on Feb. 13.
As for the wind, Ellis said, “Sometimes it’s just a hard to attack with it as it is against it. You try to play some long balls and it just runs out of bounds. You expect to have to sit and defend when you’re against it and hope you don’t give up too much, then take advantage of it when you have it.”
Defensively for Anna, Jerrod Roberts broke up several Argyle chances near the Coyotes’ goal in the second half. Also, Ellis had praise for Coyote goalkeeper Jacob Perez.
“He had a couple of really good saves under pressure, ” Ellis said. “He came out and punched a couple of balls away, and kept them from getting one in the second half.”
Ryan Hoverson’s play, “covering in the back,” was highlighted by Ellis as well.
— Rick Atkinson
Argyle pulls away from Lady Coyotes late
Argyle’s Lady Eagles (5-1-1) broke open a tight contest with four late goals to defeat Anna, 5-1, on Monday, March 6, at Coyote Stadium. The Lady Coyotes (1-6) trailed the district’s second-seeded playoff team, 1-0, at halftime and tied the match with 18 minutes left on Angelica Armijo’s goal off a Trinity Gonzales assist.
Lady Cards wrap-up undefeated district run
With the District 5-4A title already clinched, Melissa’s Lady Cardinals added a jewel to their crown on Monday, March 6: undefeated in district play, after the team’s 3-1 road win at Celina.
Fighting strong winds in the first half — as well as the district’s top scorer — Melissa still managed a 1-0 lead at the break. Amanda Kocsis put that ball in the net, after Gillian Stopinski had initially run it down in the penalty area and fought for a shot.
Early in the second half, with the wind at Melissa’s back, Stopinski took a deep ball from Josie Monk and slipped past Celina defenders to score, putting the Lady Cards up, 2-0. The Lady Bobcats responded with a goal, but Stopinski quickly struck again, ricocheting a shot off a Celina defender and into the net.
For this victory, Melissa was still missing several starters who are away on a field trip to Argentina.
“This (district title) was just a little sweeter than years past because of the depleted numbers,” Lady Cards head coach Manuel Avila said. “But overall, great results they were able to produce coming down the stretch.”
Melissa’s squad now gets a break until March 20, when they’ll face Princeton in a playoff warm-up game at Cardinal Stadium.