First-year Vandegrift coach Sharis Lachappelle knows her team well and only saw them for about 10 minutes on Friday afternoon.
The other 70 minutes, the Lady Vipers were just frustrated.
In a physical midfield battle on an unusually warm spring day, Vandegrift lost to Allen 1-0 in the regional semifinals at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
“(Allen) finished the opportunity they got and we didn’t finish any of our opportunities,” Lachappelle said.
Vandegrift is not new to this stage of the playoffs, winning the state title in 2014 and advancing to the state tournament three other times since 2014, most recently in 2017. The Lady Vipers lost in the second round last season.
This season, Vandegrift only allowed two goals on its way to a district title, and the Lady Vipers outscored their first three playoff opponents 10-4.
“They were trying to control the midfield, which they did,” Lachappelle said. “With them controlling the midfield, it didn’t allow us to open up and play on to our super quick players. That was the difference to today. They won the battle in the air and more of the 50-50 battles.”
Vandegrift sophomore Kaya Pehrson had a couple of good looks late in the first half, but her header was too weak and a second shot was grabbed by the Allen keeper. She fought her way through with under a minute left but again couldn’t get a powerful shot off.
Six minutes into the second half, Lady Eagles forward Ashleigh Williams took one touch to get by a Vandegrift defender and scored a beautiful, curling shot from about 25 yards out that found the top corner.
“As soon as she turned and hit it, I knew it was going in,” Lachappelle said.
With a lead, the Lady Eagles continued to frustrate the Lady Vipers.
Vandegrift had a chance with just over 30 minutes left when junior Olivia Tabash collided with the Allen keeper and the ball deflected out for a corner. A mistake by the Lady Vipers on the other end nearly gifted Allen another goal 10 minutes later.
“The game of soccer can be so cruel,” Lachappelle said. “The margin in girls’ soccer and soccer, in general, is so small. At the end of the day, it comes down to who finishes their opportunities. This doesn’t define our season or our team.”