Article:    
Kingwood Park falls to Frisco Wakeland in Class 5A state soccer semifinal
4/23/2018 3:48 PM

GEORGETOWN – Head coach Jess White hopes Kingwood Park’s rise in girls soccer is the beginning of a new era.

It stops at the Class 5A state semifinals for now.

Frisco Wakeland made sure of it in a 3-0 win Thursday at Birkelbach Field.

All of Wakeland’s goals came in the second half, where Makayla Saak opened the scoring in the 42nd minute on an unassisted goal.

Eight minutes later, Gracie Brian – who was in great position after Payton Adams’ free kick hit the crossbar – made it a 2-0 lead. Brian’s second goal of the day in the 79th minute put a cap on Wakeland advancing and Kingwood Park’s season.

While there were no goals in the first half, Wakeland (23-1-4) outshot Kingwood Park 10-1. The Panthers were holding their own despite the pressure.

“I think we did a good job - even though we weren’t playing our best in the first half - keeping them at bay,” White said. “The overall challenge for us was just connecting our passes. Playing a little bit quicker. I think that was our biggest challenge.”

Kingwood Park finished with four shots to Wakeland’s 21.

The Panthers (24-3-1) will relish in the experience for future runs. The regional semifinal was the program’s ceiling before this year with bids in 2013 and 2016. Forward Allie Byrd’s heroics, among other things, made a difference this year especially at the regional tournament. The junior multi-sport star will return next season.

White says the team can grow from this.

“They all have the experience of being here now,” White said. “Playing a much faster pace. We create that competition in practice but they may not want to bring it up but I’m going to bring it up. ‘Hey remember? This is what it’s going to take to get past that next hurdle.’ We’ll keep doing what we’re doing. We’ll just take it up a notch.”

Dallas-Fort Worth teams have been a tough out at the state soccer tournament. White hopes someone from the Houston-area breaks through this weekend.

Five teams entered the weekend representing the city – Kingwood Park, Memorial and Cinco Ranch for the girls and Wisdom and Elsik for the boys.

Soccer is a relatively young sport under the University Interscholastic League (the sport’s history dates back to 1983). But the Houston-area is looking for its seventh all-time state champion on the girls’ side.

The Woodlands’ triumph in 2010 is the last time a Houston-area team raised the first-place trophy.

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