By BRAD KEITH
GEORGETOWN (April 12, 2017) — Stephenville (24-4) dominated pace and its defense kept another clean sheet while Gracie Bales scored a goal and assisted on the other for a 2-0 win over Athens (15-11-1) in a 4A girls semifinal at the UIL Soccer State Tournament at Birkenbach Field Wednesday.
The Honeybees face Jasper or Boerne in the championship at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Their semifinal is the next game here Wednesday.
Bales scored with assist from Ciara Johnston, who took a long throw from just above the right corner. The opening goal came just 7:28 into the match, which ended as the ninth straight win for Stephenville. Just more than 60 minutes went by before the Bees broke through again with the same two freshmen involved. This time it was Bales helping with a beautiful cross that Johnston headed in for the two-goal lead.
‘That second goal was what we talked about the entire game and throughout halftime,” said Stephenville head coach Casey Weil, whose club had 12 offside calls before intermission and 16 total. “We were just a little off today it seemed like.”
Off, maybe, but still dominant in every facet of the game.
The Bees had numerous chances and the Lady Hornets very few. At halftime Stephenville had eight shots to one by Athens, and three of those Honeybee strikes were on goal with two others – one by Bales and one by Madison Carter hitting the left post.
There were also two first half goals disallowed by offsides calls – one by Haleigh Beam two minutes into the game before she was injured in the second half, and another by Carter, who saw extensive time off the bench just as she did in last week’s Region I-4A Tournament.
“I don’t know if they watched film or what, but I think they truly believed they couldn’t keep up with our pace so they played the offside,” said Weil. “We just kept attacking and attacking and finished a couple chances and got it done.”
The Bees took another eight shots, four of them on goal in the second half, finishing with 16 shots and seven on goal to just two shots, both on goal, by Athens. The first-half save by Stephenville keeper Madison Wyly was impressive with her lunging to her left. The second-half save was more mundane.
“Extremely proud of our girls in the back,” said Weil, whose club has allowed only seven goals in 28 matches. “Again, no goals, quite impressive.”
Savannah Alford and Kalee Wright, both seniors who have signed with Midwestern State, helped to keep things clean in front of Wyly while freshman Beatris Chavarria made Arkansas commit Makayle Traxson a non-factor.
“Anybody, the girl from Kennedale who is supposedly going to Duke or North Carolina, the girl (from Melissa) supposedly going to (Texas) A&M, this one to Arkansas, I’ll teak Bea over any of them,” Weil said.