Cards nipped by Frisco Lebanon Trail

FRISCO — For 72 minutes on March 13 Melissa’s Cardinals and Frisco Lebanon Trail tangled to a 0-0 draw in bone-chilling wind. Then things got hot — at least around the nets. That’s when three goals erupted over the match’s final minutes but, unfortunately for Melissa, two came from one Amari Lewis of the Trail Blazers.

“We just let that kid run on,” Pitzer said of Lewis’ surge. “He’s a good player. He’s fast. We just didn’t mark him well. That’s the bottom line.”

Sandwiched between Lewis’ net-finders was a nifty goal by the Cards’ Jose Malvica, who nailed a sweet shot from 25 yards out just 60 seconds after Lewis’ first goal with 7:44 left.

“(He) just buried it in the top corner,” Pitzer said of Malvica’s boot. “It was a beautiful shot.”

Lewis, though, came back two minutes later, battling a defender on a breakaway before bending a left-footed shot into the net from 15 yards out and Lebanon Trail hung on for the 2-1 decision.

“Overall, we played pretty well,” Pitzer said. “We struggled a little bit into the wind. … Their shape looked a lot better after 20 minutes, they settled down a little bit. Now we’ve just got to train real hard for the playoffs.”

This non-district contest on the Trail Blazers’ home turf ended the regular-season slate for both teams. Melissa (1-5, 4-8-4) was already District 5-4A’s fourth seed for the playoffs and will draw a bye in the first round, as the district with which 5-4A is paired has no teams. Ditto for the district-champion Lady Cardinals. Neither Melissa team will start playoff action until March 31.

“It was a good test going into the playoffs, because we’ll play some teams that move the ball like this,” Pitzer said. “We’ll just have to keep looking at it and see how we can change a few things.”

Josh Love was in-net for Melissa in the first half and Nate Smith came on in the second.

“Josh wasn’t feeling good tonight, so I pulled him at halftime,” Pitzer said.

Both teams traded good scoring chances near the mid-point of the second half. Then with 18 minutes left, a Trail Blazer knocked a shot off the left post from point-blank range. Following that, a Lebanon Trail penalty kick from 20 yards out was saved by Smith. Seconds later, a Trail Blazer shot on goal missed left. Still tied at 0-0, Malvica soon put pressure back on Lebanon Trail with a shot off the football cross bar just above the net. A minute later, a corner kick from Melissa’s August Greer to Nicholas Palmer near the net wouldn’t go.

Soon after, Lewis would get loose for his first goal.

Pitzer described the strong wind’s effect on strategy and execution.

“When you’re going against the wind, when it’s blowing this hard, you’ve got to play the ball on the ground,” he said. “You can’t play it in the air — it just hangs up there. (Lebanon Trail) had a lot of possession in the first half just because the ball was being played up and you have to defend. In the second half, definitely, we played better.”

He also noted that a strong wind at an attacker’s back can often make it difficult for goalkeepers to “gauge” a shot’s closure.

Lady Cards head coach Manuel Avila was on hand for the contest, as is his custom. Pitzer, likewise, attends Lady Cards games. Avila said the long break before post-season play should help his team.

“We’re still not as healthy as we need to be, or we want to be,” Avila said. “Hopefully, that’s kind of what we look at the next couple of weeks as being a positive for us … and we can be healthy and go into the playoffs in better shape than we are.”

Avila said Melissa’s girls will play the winner of FW Castleberry-versus-Alvarado in the area round of the playoffs on March 31.

Gainesville edges Coyotes for second place

Gainesville’s Leopards squeezed by Anna, 1-0, on Monday, March 13, at Gainesville to nab District 5-4A’s second seed in the playoffs. The Leopards’ lone goal, 13 minutes into the contest, pushed the Coyotes (2-4, 8-11-2) into third place as the district race concluded.

Anna gets the district’s third seed but will draw a bye in the first round as this district’s bi-district mate has no teams. The Coyotes open the playoffs in the area round March 30-April 1 against the winner of the FW Castleberry-Waxahachie Life matchup.

Lady Coyotes top Gainesville in district finale

Anna closed out district play on Monday, March 13, with a 7-3 win at Gainesville. The Lady Coyotes will represent District 5-4A as the fourth seed in the playoffs, but they draw a bye in the first round as bi-district mate 6-4A has no teams. Anna will open the playoffs on March 31 in the area round versus the Waxahachie Life-FW Diamond Hill-Jarvis winner.

In the Lady Coyotes’ victory over Gainesville (0-8, 2-16-1), junior Emily Hanna led Anna with five goals as fellow junior Alexandra Schofield posted a team-high three assists. The Lady Coyotes led, 2-0, at halftime on goals by Hanna and senior Liz Spivey, with Schofield assists on each. After the break, Anna (2-6, 5-14-1) poured it on with goals by Abigail Cisneros and four more from Hanna. Cisneros’ score came with an assist from Kaitlynn Perry and Hanna’s were assisted by Schofield, Spivey, Lauren Schlicht and Catherine Chavez.