MELISSA — In their final district match of 2018, Melissa’s Lady Cardinals blanked Celina, 4-0, at home on Monday, March 5, securing their fourth-straight season without a district loss. “Like I told the seniors,” Melissa head coach Manuel Avila said, “I don’t know of any other group that’s done that. They went through the halls of Melissa High School and never lost a single match to Celina or Argyle — ever.”
First-half goals by Gillian Stopinski and Emma Schaeffer and a pair from Erin Eichel and Lilly Hubbard in the second — plus another stout defensive effort — told the story this night. Speaking of defense, this year’s spotless district run was topped off with four-straight shutouts.
Brittany Morgan was in-goal all the way again for Melissa (14-1-0, 8-0-0). She and the back line, anchored by Sarah Weideman, kept the Lady Bobcats searching throughout the contest.
“In the first half, I thought we were really, really good on the ball,” Avila said. “You could hear the other team’s coach really yelling at them. I think a lot of that was us being composed and really wanting to step up and win for our seniors. In the second half, we came out a little flat but, defensively, we were still good. When we finally woke up and started playing, we knocked two in. It’s kind of a testament to the team as a whole that they were able to do what they needed to do defensively till we woke up a little bit.”
The Lady Cards now have two weeks off before non-district matches with Frisco Lebanon Trail and Sherman in preparation for the playoffs.
Melissa went up on Celina, 1-0, with Stopinski’s boot from about 12 yards out with 13 minutes elapsed in the contest. Schaeffer’s goal followed three minutes later on a through ball she’d chased for about 40 yards — passing a Lady Bobcat like a Hot-Rod Lincoln — before punching it in from close range.
Eichel opened the second-half scoring 23 minutes in with a lofted, 9-iron shot from the left that came down perfectly — over the ‘keepers hands and under the cross bar — and into the far corner of the net. Goal four came when Reese Reddick, sprinting toward the right corner, turned a ball toward the net for a tap-in by Hubbard. Said Avila, “We preached to [Reddick] at the half, ‘You’ve got to turn the corner, you’ve got to get those hips going to the goal and be really aggressive with the touch.’ Right there was proof-positive. She got an opportunity. Lilly was unmarked and she reaped the reward of Reese’s hard work.”
On the injury front, Melissa’s Jenna Daniel took a head to her left cheekbone with 12:22 left in the first half, an event that required clock stoppage. She was eventually assisted off the pitch and to the Lady Cards’ bench where she was checked out and given an ice pack. She returned to action in the second half. “It’ll bruise and it’ll be nasty,” Avila said, “but the good news is she’s got two weeks before she has to step on the field again.”
With no matches now until March 19 versus Lebanon Trail, Avila said the team would have the rest of this week off. “I think they deserve the rest. The week we get back from spring break, we’re going to go to work.”