Allen sophomore Ava McDonald, right, scored two goals in Tuesday's 2-0 win over Prosper. McDonald, alongside senior Melania Fullerton, middle, and junior Jillian Anderson, left, celebrated afterwards with the District 5-6A championship.
ALLEN — Tuesday night has been a long time coming for the Allen girls soccer team.
The Lady Eagles entered the penultimate match of their regular season in an advantageous spot, holding down first place in District 5-6A and needing a win to secure the league title, but had to do so opposite a Prosper side that Allen has spent the better part of the past three seasons chasing in that very pursuit.
Behind two goals from sophomore Ava McDonald, Allen (12-0-1 in district) got over the hump in fitting fashion by blanking the two-time defending 5-6A champs, 2-0, from Eagle Stadium. Post-match, McDonald, senior Melania Fullerton and junior Jillian Anderson raced over to a backpack near the team's bench and unzipped it to unveil the program's first district championship trophy since 2019.
"It's huge. It's been a few years coming, back since my first year here," said Kelly Thompson, Allen head coach. "Being district champions is our goal every year and the big difference this year was the team. With that team chemistry, hustle and hard work, we weren't going to stop until we achieved that goal. I'm so proud of these girls for getting it done tonight."
That it came against fellow state-ranked rival Prosper (9-2-2 in district) only amplified the stakes for Tuesday's match with Allen holding just a three-point lead for first place heading into the night. Little has separated Allen and Prosper on the pitch, previously waging seven straight head-to-head matches decided by one goal or less, and that nip-and-tuck nature materialized right out of the gates.
Prosper generated what wound up being its most opportune shot of the night less than two minutes in thanks to a pinpoint cross from sophomore Olivia Hess that junior Brooklyn Miller put on frame, forcing an acrobatic tip from Allen senior keeper Robbi Curry that sent the ball off the crossbar and out of play.
Moments later, some nifty ball movement from Allen resulted in an open look for McDonald that was turned away by Prosper junior Margaret Manning in net.
Consider the latter a sign of things to come.
The initial stalemate swayed in favor of the home side in the 28th minute when McDonald was fouled in the box, earning a penalty kick opportunity for last season's 5-6A newcomer of the year. McDonald buried a shot to the right side of the net for a 1-0 advantage that held through halftime.
"When I saw her in our first practice, I was thinking about how she got even faster," Thompson said. "Her speed is there, her ball control has improved and her as an individual, a player, a person and a young teenager, it's amazing the amount of growth over the past year. She's been a huge part of this team this year and we love having her."
That speed shined in the 55th minute when McDonald struck again, this time in the run of play. The blue-chip forward blocked a Prosper ball near midfield, which in turn freed up a 1-on-1 breakaway down the home sideline. McDonald sped past the nearest Prosper defender and into the open field, granted a clean look versus Manning that she once again capitalized on for a 2-0 advantage.
"Right there, I'm feeling like I have no other choice to score," McDonald said. "I see that goal and it's wide open. Their keeper was far off, so I'm thinking it's my chance and I've got to score."
Said Prosper head coach Taylor Baca: "Allen has a few kids, one in particular, that can break a game wide open. It's one of those things where regardless of the balance of play, with a kid like that it's always going to be a problem."
It marked just the second time all season that Prosper had allowed multiple goals in a match — having previously surrendered just three through its first 12 district matches.
Prosper managed to generate only four shots on goal on the night, held in check opposite Curry and a back line anchored by junior Sydney Williams and sophomore Emma Monsen on Tuesday. Allen had an answer at each turn, including late when a ball deflected into the box only to be snuffed out by Curry before Miller could get to it.
"We definitely dropped our defense a bit more in the second half and put some girls in front," Thompson said. "We do have a lot of height in the back line to help win those air balls and get it back to our side of the field. They adjusted well, played disciplined, stayed behind the ball, kept those hands down to not pick up fouls, and Robbi came up with a couple huge saves."
It was only the second time that Prosper had been held off the scoreboard all season, although the previous time came just one week prior in a 1-0 loss to McKinney Boyd on Feb. 28. Prosper has had to soldier through its district schedule without the aid of reigning 5-6A MVP and junior Emma Yolinsky, who's one of multiple Prosper starters to miss time of late due to injury. Baca is hopeful his top scorer will be able to return during the postseason.
"They're just making sure she's 100% already before coming back into the fold. I think she's getting pretty close, and especially if we can put together a bit of a playoff run, we'll have her involved again," he said.
Prosper, despite an identical 9-2-2 record with Boyd, holds the edge in second place on points with 31 to the Lady Broncos' 30. Prosper looks to secure the No. 2 seed with a win in its March 14 home finale against McKinney.
"We've seen the last few years going into playoffs that the first seed isn't always the most important," Baca said. "For us, it's just about sticking together as a group and hopefully getting some kids back as we finish district and go into the playoffs. I'm really optimistic about this group. I think once we find our feet again and start rolling, I think we're as good as anyone in the state."
Allen, meanwhile, scores its first win over Prosper since February 2019. Allen looks to finish its district campaign on a winning March 14 on the road against Little Elm.
"We're feeling great," Thompson said. "A district championship is our district goal and now after one more game we can start looking at our postseason goals, and that's to win a state championship. We're going to keep working until we get that."
Postseason form: Photos from Tuesday's state-ranked thriller between the Allen and Prosper girls
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