By Jim Irish
Still photo by Jim Irish, courtesy photos
Bastrop girls bi-district soccer opponent, Richards School for Young Women Leaders, is a known entity.
The Bears (13-9-1) defeated the Stars 2-1 in a tournament match in January. The loss was one of only two for Richards during the season.
“We played them very early in the season,” Bastrop coach Leslie Rangel said after a maintenance workout on Tuesday. “They were a good matchup for us. They’re a very physical team.”
Rangel realizes that District 24-5A champion Richards (18-2) has evolved since that early season match.
"... They were a good matchup for us. They're a very physical team."
-- Bastrop coach Leslie Rangel about bi-district opponent Richards
“They’ve brought some girls in after basketball season,” she said. “They’re going to have a different look.”
Bi-district match at Erhard Stadium on Friday
Bastrop won the coin toss and will be the host of the playoff match at Erhard Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Bastrop will also present a different style.
“Our lineup has changed a bit,” Rangel said. “When they saw us in preseason, we were still working on developing all of our formations and looks. They’ve seen only one (4-3-3) of our formations.”
Bastrop has added a 4-5-1 formation with five midfielders and a variation of the 4-4-2.
“(The formation) depends on what we’re up against and what their strengths are,” Rangel said. “Our girls are very dynamic. We can make a lot of in-game shifts.”
The Bears also employ an offside trap in which the backline moves forward in unison to place the opposing forward behind them. It often results in a penalty against the opponent but sometimes a goal.
The Bastrop backline, consisting of Kayleigh Kawazoe, Makayla Flores, Taylor Gonzalez, and Sophia Altamirano, is experienced except for freshman Kailee Sanders.
“It’s something that we’ve been working on and developing as a tactic,” Rangel said about the offside trap. “The chemistry of my backline is solid. They know when they can do it.”
Bastrop relies on four-year starter Rebecca McFarland at goalkeeper. Other than missing a few matches last season because of a concussion, McFarland, who has allowed 1.5 goals a game with 100 saves, has been a model of consistency.
“She’s a two-year captain and has grown into the role,” Rangel said. “She leads by example. She’s outstanding.”
On the offensive end, sophomore forward Rylee Romney has scored 29 goals, improving from 24 last season.
"We know how to react and adjust quickly."
-- Rangel about competition in District 23-5A
Rangel said that Bastrop has an advantage because it played in a highly competitive District 23-5A, including unbeaten Georgetown, the No. 2 ranked team in Class 5A in the state by the Texas Coaches Soccer Association. Bastrop finished fourth in the district.
“We know how to react and adjust quickly,” Rangel said.
Richards is ranked No. 16 in the state but had some lopsided wins in arguably a weaker district. Nevertheless, Rangel expects a close match.
“They’re very determined,” she said. “They have a game plan. They like holding (a forward) high, trying to split your defense, and attacking the goal that way.”
Bastrop has advanced to the playoffs in three of Rangel’s four seasons as coach. The Bears last won a playoff match in 2011 under current Bastrop boys coach Marc Cox.
“We’re definitely going in confident,” Rangel said. “I’m very proud of the team we’ve built and the level of dedication.
“It’s a home field game, and that’s amazing. We’re ready to play our game and be successful in that.”
Jim Irish is a freelance writer in Bastrop, Texas