NORTH Alexa Bezpalko.

North’s Alexa Bezpalko scored in the 82nd minute of the Lady Bulldogs’ dramatic overtime loss to Carrollton Creekview. 

RICHARDSON – During Tuesday night’s area-round matchup with Carrollton Creekview, Wildcat-Ram Stadium officially became a house of horrors for the McKinney North girls’ soccer team.

Only 30 seconds away from advancing to the regional quarterfinals, the Lady Bulldogs allowed an overtime goal by Creekview junior Fernanda Sarellano – momentum the Lady Mustangs rode to a 3-1 penalty kick shootout victory to end North’s season in the area round on the Wildcat-Ram Stadium turf for the second consecutive season.

Although Sarellano and senior goalie Kaylee Rust made several key plays, Creekview’s emotional victory was an overall team win.

“Our team deserves this win, because they worked their butts off all night long and never quit,” said Shannon Moroney, Creekview head coach. “The heart these girls displayed tonight is why this program is heading to the regional quarterfinal round for the first time in six years, and we’ve got the talent and mentality to come out on top going forward.”

Creekview struck first during the second half when senior Hannah Hinojosa connected on a beautiful, crossing pass with fellow senior Victoria Sifuentes, who found the net for the first goal of the game. With Creekview’s season and her high school career on the line, it was Sifuentes who would later make an outstanding run by two North defenders before assisting on Sarellano’s equalizer.

“I knew Victoria would get the cross because of her determination, so I sprinted to the goal and she made the cross and I was able to finish,” Sarellano said. “Coach said, ‘10 minutes of hard time, hard pressure and hard everything,’ so I just sprinted hard and was fortunate enough to make it in the net.”

With North reeling from the emotions of coming so close to advancing in overtime, Rust quietly put her team on her back and carried them to the finish line. After stonewalling North’s talented goal scorer Emilie Torres on a 1-on-1 late in overtime, Rust remained a thorn in the Lady Bulldogs’ side by making spectacular saves on the first three consecutive shots of the shootout to dominate the entire session and lead her team to victory.

The senior goalie’s clutch performance in the penalty kick shootout put an exclamation point on the Lady Bulldogs’ heartbreaking, season-ending loss.

“Well, I wasn’t really thinking, I was just playing the game and trying to slow everything down to help us win the game, which we did,” Rust said. “I really want to cry right now because I’m so happy we played really great and so excited to be moving on to the next round.

North’s heartbreaking loss ends an outstanding season where they won their first district title in six seasons and shut out 14 opponents. Although they have made the playoffs five out of the last six seasons, the Lady Bulldogs’ loss also means the program has not advanced to the regional quarterfinal round since 2013.

With the realization that they were only seconds away from accomplishing one of their team goals on the season, it will take some time for the North soccer program to digest this tough loss.

“It’s a frustrating loss because we had the game under control and had them on their heels, but we just gave them a little space, which we hadn’t all night long, and they capitalized on it in the final 30 seconds,” said Lance Lovell, North head coach. “We lost in the area round last year to Highland Park and this season we were hoping to win the area round to show off our complete improvement this season.

“In the end, we lost in the area round and didn’t move on, which is unfortunate, but I know the kids gave it everything they had tonight and all season long and it showed in us winning a district title and having a solid playoff run.”

For continued coverage of the local sports scene, follow Kendrick E. Johnson on Twitter @kendrickjohnso 

 

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