Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Nolan again takes aim at powerhouse Ursuline, trying to prevent 24th straight state title
As Ursuline has built a national soccer reputation with 23 consecutive state titles, Fort Worth Nolan has resided in close parallel.
The two programs collide again in a TAPPS Division I girls state semifinal at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Awty International School in Houston.
Nolan (24-1-5) has defeated Ursuline (11-7-4) twice in district, but Ursuline has a distinct advantage in state tournament matches. Nolan has reached 14 state tournaments and been eliminated by Ursuline 12 times.
“It used to be all about Ursuline,” said 16th-year Nolan coach Jay Fitzgerald. “But our district [TAPPS I-1] is probably the toughest in the state. Bishop Lynch and John Paul II, Ursuline, Nolan and Argyle Liberty are usually goal-by-goal games. The history has been great. It’s an awesome group to compete against.”
Lynch and John Paul II play in the other semifinal at Awty at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Ursuline scored two second-half goals to advance past Argyle Liberty in the quarterfinals this week. Ursuline defeated Liberty in a state semifinal last year.
“We have been all about patience this year,” second-year Ursuline coach Allison Daus said. “We have had a lot of the girls come through as we’ve had a lot of injuries. That’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. We’re a possession team. We have to be patient to get our chances.”
Ursuline’s Katie Lund and Alex Arenas came up with the goals against Liberty. Ursuline has four seniors who have signed with colleges: Amanda Boe (Trinity University), Samantha Chaiken (Rice), Emma McCrady (Army) and Katie King (St. Edward’s).
There’s also youthful depth with three freshmen —Madison Haley, Izzy Trevino and Leah Archer — playing a considerable amount of time along with Arenas.
Haley’s father, former Cowboys star defensive end Charles Haley, is a frequent spectator, and Madison is considered one of the nation’s top Class of 2017 players.
At Nolan, Fitzgerald said they’ve built team chemistry with leadership and no designated captains. Junior Piper Head has blossomed into a top goalie, with center back Erin Hippert and midfielder Katy Hirschfeld setting up a balanced offense. Nolan defeated Ursuline in overtime in the last district meeting as Hirschfeld set up the winning goal by Gwennie Puente.
“If we go to Houston and play well, we might have another game,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to jump on the bus, go to Houston and concentrate on playing well and improving. It’s as subtle as that.”