FLOWER MOUND — For the most part, the Flower Mound girls soccer team did everything right in its pursuit of just one goal scored against rival Marcus on Friday — except put the ball in the back of the net.
The Lady Jaguars held advantages across the board from shots on goal to time of possession and corner kicks generated — all to be turned away by junior goalkeeper Rachel Bump and the rest of the Marcus defense in a scoreless draw from Neal Wilson Stadium.
“They’re a decent side, but I thought we had moments of some really brilliant stuff and came up with some really good combinations,” said Misail Tsapos, Flower Mound head coach. “The final product wasn’t there, but you have to be proud of the performance.”
The Lady Jaguars tallied a 9-1 advantage in shots on goal, including three in a two-minute span inside the final 11 minutes of the contest that caused some anxious moments on both sides of the stadium. Flower Mound senior Abby Smith had her foot behind all three, including a rebound that presented a rare opening in net but the midfielder’s outstretched kick slid the ball just wide of the net.
Moments later, senior Caitlyn Matthews had a near-miss of her own, drawing a 1-on-1 chance with Bump after the ball slipped through the middle of the Marcus back line, but a rocket by the Flower Mound midfielder was snuffed out by a diving Bump to keep the scoreless bout intact with 8:25 remaining.
“A lot of the shots were from distance and it’s going to be hard to beat [Bump] from that far out,” said Chad Hobbs, Marcus head coach. “Our mindset was to not let them in the box because it’s much easier to finish when they’re 6 yards out instead of 30. We’ll take our chances when we’re forcing teams to shoot that far out with her in the goal.”
Ironically enough, it was a shot from that distance that nearly willed the Lady Marauders to an early lead. Just under nine minutes into the match, Marcus junior Caroline Hilliard launched a towering strike from 35 yards out that hit the far post and took a fortuitous bounce to Flower Mound junior keeper Peyton Whipple.
In the 27th minute, the Lady Jaguars incurred that same fate after a setup from Matthews found sophomore Skye Leach for a close shot in the box that hammered off the left post.
Despite the near-miss, Flower Mound managed to control the flow of play for the remainder of the half and for the bulk of the final 40 minutes. The Lady Marauders had their chances on the counterattack, often ushering the ball toward junior Kelly Van Gundy, but Flower Mound junior Madison Schott broke up a number of potential chances for a Marcus side that never established a steady rhythm on the attack Friday.
“I don’t think we played like we wanted to today. We were off our tempo a lot and were forcing passes a lot,” Hobbs said. “We tried to play a bit quicker, because the spaces were there for us to use and break pressure, but we just weren’t seeing them quick enough. That’s a credit to [Flower Mound], though — they put you under pretty quickly, but it’s an environment we can learn from.”
In that respect, it was a welcome sight for Tsapos after the Lady Jaguars surrendered their first goal of district play in Tuesday’s 1-1 tie with Hebron.
“I’d like to think that, defensively, we’re always going to be organized. The organization was very good today,” he said. “I know they were pacing and counter-attacking, and were very direct, but I thought we dealt with it very well.”
Although it still resulted in a point for both sides, Friday marked Flower Mound’s second straight draw after a 10-0 start to 6-6A play. The Lady Jaguars (10-0-2, 32) remain in the driver’s seat to clinch the district title, however — something they can follow through on at 7:30 p.m. Monday when they host Coppell.
Marcus (9-2-1, 28), which nabbed a point of its own, still hangs on to the No. 2 seed but is only three points ahead of the Cowgirls (8-3-1, 25) heading into Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. meeting with Irving MacArthur.
Hebron, Lewisville roll
With two district matches to play, Hebron locked up a postseason spot in decisive fashion on Friday after breezing past MacArthur, 6-1. The Lady Hawks did so thanks a hat trick from Matilda Torres, whose three goals were complemented by scores from Chloe Jones, Olivia Hasler and Briley Weatherford.
It was a welcome reprieve for the Lady Hawks after soldiering through a three-match stretch with Coppell, Marcus and Flower Mound where they went 0-2-1 and slipped back into fourth place in the standings. Assured a postseason berth, Hebron improved to 7-3-2 and 23 points with the win.
Although district rival Lewisville will finish its season outside of the playoff picture, the Lady Farmers mustered some late-season momentum with their second consecutive win after edging Irving Nimitz on Friday, 2-1.
Averi Culver and Kaitlyn Sage both found the back of the net for Lewisville, which joined MacArthur in a tie for fifth place in the conference at 4-7-1 and 13 points.