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Sunday April 24, 2016

Back-to-Back District Champs!

By David Harp


Cowgirls Stampede Their Way To Second Consecutive North District Title.

The Coppell Cowgirls Varsity Lacrosse Team entered the 2016 season with a lone goal in mind—to win a championship in the Lone Star State. This weekend, they took a huge step towards that goal, winning their semi-final and championship games in resounding fashion.

Coming off a big 18-4 quarter-final win on Thursday against Flower Mound, the Cowgirls semi-final game saw them matched up against an upstart McKinney team that was able to stick with the Cowgirls for a half when the teams first met on March 30th. On Saturday, the Cowgirls came out of the chute like wildfire, putting 4 goals on the board in the first 2 and half minutes. McKinney responded in kind though, netting 4 unanswered goals of their own. From that point on however, the Cowgirls offensive attack took over.

The Cowgirls would go on to score a whopping 12 more goals in the first half, using a combination of relentless fast breaks and smartly executed set pieces, all sparked once again by complete dominance in the draw circle by Syracuse commit, sr. attacker, Morgan Widner. She finished the game winning 22 of her 27 draw attempts, ensuring a huge possession advantage for Coppell. The halftime score read more like a final, with the Cowgirls claiming a near insurmountable 16-7 lead.

In the 2nd half, the Cowgirls continued to apply pressure while also settling into a more deliberate pace. This allowed McKinney only 2 second half goals, while Coppell netted 6. For the game, Coppell had a foursome of players who each scored 5 goals, with two of those players racking up 4 assists as well. Goal scorers included Widner (5 goals, 4 assists), sr. attacker, Charlotte Hayden (5 goals, 4 assists), sr. midfielder, Delaney Dendy (5 goals), sr. midfielder, Arizona State commit, Mia Harp, (5 goals), soph. midfielder, Syracuse commit, Courtney Anderson (1 goal) and sr. midfielder, Ashley Bartlett (1 goal).

Following the win, a majority of the Coppell players attended senior prom—with a certain stipulation: a 12:30 curfew. Having a well-rested team was a huge concern for head coach, Molly Ford. That was especially true knowing that their opponent in the district final game would be the only Texas team that had put a blemish on the Cowgirls’ otherwise perfect record: the Episcopal School of Dallas Lady Eagles (ESD).

The two teams met just over two weeks ago, with ESD jumping out to a big early lead on their way to a 12-8 victory over the Cowgirls. During Sunday’s championship game, any anger the Cowgirls harbored from a shortened prom night was taken out squarely on their opponent.

From the opening draw, Coppell assumed the role of aggressor, battling hard for every draw and loose ball. This also translated to the defensive end, where the Cowgirl defenders and middies applied a swarming defense. Their well-timed double teams constantly harassed the ESD attackers, never allowing them to settle into any offensive rhythm.

Once again, sr. defender, Kailey Rivera, affectionately known as “The Honey Badger,” led the charge. Rivera forced 5 turnovers while collecting 2 ground balls and 4 draw controls. Her partners on defense displayed the same tenacity, with 2 takeaways by jr. defender, Liz Pease, 1 takeaway by sr. middie, Elizabeth Sapp, and 1 takeaway by sr. defender, Whitney Bras.

When asked what the difference was between this and the previous game against ESD, Coach Ford explained, “Our defense came up big. We came up with a different defensive plan and I think they were waiting for us to do the same thing we did before, but we changed it up and went more aggressive. And our goalie came up huge.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken. Sr. goaltender, Arizona State commit, Berkeley Bonneau, saved one of her best performances of the season for one of the biggest stages. Few teams boast the firepower of ESD, but at every turn, Bonneau was up to the task. She snagged 10 saves on 13 shots, many of which were point blank chances from high-percentage scoring areas. She also spearheaded an impressive day of defensive clears, sending precision passes to her teammates to neutralize the aggressive ESD ride.

The tenacious approach on defense and stellar effort in goal translated to a masterful performance on offense. In their previous meeting, ESD’s mix of draw takers were able to neutralize Widner in the draw circle. That wasn’t the case in the championship game. For the game, Widner was 14 out of 20 on draws, giving the Cowgirls a much needed possession edge. According to Coach Ford, “Morgan came in with a lot of focus and we had gone over a lot of technique things. She came in with a lot of momentum and confidence, and confidence is key.”

Her confidence continued down the field, as she used her entire arsenal of offensive skills, mixing power and finesse around the goal to rack up 5 goals and 1 assist. Harp added to the assault with an impressive display of dodges to create space on her way to 3 goals and 1 assist. Hayden was back at her best once again around the goal circle, scoring 2 goals and dishing 3 assists, all of which came when ESD tried to contain her with double teams. Other goal scorers included jr. midfielder, Keilyn Michaelis, sr. attacker, Melissa Len, jr. attacker, Abbi Waters, sr. midfielder, Ashley Bartlett, and sr. attacker, Taylor Greaves.

When it was all said and done, the Cowgirls had stunned the previously undefeated ESD Eagles with a 15-3 victory to claim their second consecutive North Texas District Championship.

The Cowgirls will ride their wave of momentum into the Texas State Playoffs in 2 weeks, which will be hosted in Coppell for the first time ever. In preparation for state, Coach Ford explained, “We’ve got to work hard. It’s hard having a two week break. Hopefully we’ll be seeded high, but we’ve got to be ready for whoever we play.” After seeing them dominate the North District, it’s hard to imagine that the Cowgirls won’t be.

As an added bonus to their weekend, the Coppell Cowgirls were honored with 4 players being named to the Texas All-State team:

-       Sr. Kailey Rivera, Defense

-       Sr. Morgan Widner, Attack

-       Sr. Mia Harp, Midfield

-       Sr. Berkeley Bonneau, Goalie

Stay tuned for updated brackets and game times, which will be released later this week. And congratulations to the Cowgirls on an amazing season and their back-to-back North District Championships!