Dallas Soccer DFW

Southlake girls ready for State

Published 4/9/2008 1:43:32 PM by staff from fort worth star telegram

From the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
Of the 100 messages scribbled in chalk on the pavement outside Dragon Stadium, one fits the Southlake Carroll girls soccer team's style perfectly. "Defend as a unit" is not a glamorous or goose bump-inducing quote but accurately describes the approach of the Lady Dragons (22-4-4), who open the UIL Class 5A state tournament at 11 a.m. Thursday against San Antonio MacArthur (24-1-1) in the semifinals at Round Rock ISD Stadium.

Carroll, not a flashy, star-studded team, has racked up 23 shutouts, including a clean sheet in the Region I final against Lewisville Hebron. Carroll coach Matt Colvin said that during the fall the staff experimented with different formations but built the system to fit the personnel.

"We sat down with the coaching staff and the captains and said, 'There's nothing wrong with building your team around defense,'" Colvin said. "I think that's taken us to where we are now. We grew into that team."

The backline features centerbacks Lani Huntley and Lexis Learmonth, with Leslie Shurtleff (rightback) and Ally Hunter (leftback) filling the outside fullback roles. Huntley, Hunter and Shurtleff are all returning starters in the backline, while Learmonth has made the transition from defensive midfield to defender. These four call themselves, "The Brick Wall." One of the strengths of the backline has been the flexibility to play either a man-marking or zone defense depending on the opposition's strength, evident in Saturday's region final victory over Hebron and its speedy attackers.

"We've just really learned through some tough rival games during the season, from losing to Colleyville, that we need to stay calm in the back," Learmonth said. "It's really about staying calm, working hard, and it's really about a lot of heart."

Keeper Caitlin Schneider, who Huntley said earned the nickname "The Beast," rounds out the defense However, Huntley pointed out that the slogan "Defend as a unit" applies to the entire squad and the midfield and forwards do their share.

"We're like a huge family. We have a saying, 'This is the team, now is the time,'" Huntley said. "We say that together before every game, and we'll never play together again and so that really pushes us."

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