NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – It may sound cliche to say it was a David-and-Goliath matchup when Grapevine Faith met Southlake Carroll in the Grapevine Winter Blast soccer tournament, but when Carroll has more students in their senior class than Faith has in it’s entire high school, the comparison is not that far off. The Faith Lions and Carroll Dragons met on Friday night, and Faith won a physical game 3-2.
The Lions took an early lead after senior captain Dan Hancock scored a little over two minutes into the game. Carroll tied the game later in the half, but Faith quickly retaliated with a goal from senior Conor Langenbahn. Late in the first half, senior Michael Hinkley cemented the Lions’ lead with a third goal for Faith. Southlake would bring the game close again after scoring late in the second half, but Faith held on to win the game.
Tension rose on the field, however, midway through the second half, after Hancock was roughly guarded the whole way down the sideline before a Dragons defender knocked the ball out of bounds. As players jostled for position in the goal box before a corner kick, words were exchanged and Faith sophomore Reggie Cannon was given a yellow card. “They’re more physically intense than any team we’ve played. They’re just a lot bigger and stronger,” Hinkley said.
Cannon said he was concerned that a fight might break out and insisted he was only trying to break up any confrontations. “I wasn’t touching him; I was just standing in front of him and the ref thought I was trying to start a fight and I got a yellow card,” Cannon said. “I didn’t do anything, but hey, life is unfair.”
The Faith players had been looking forward to this game for nearly a month. “Our whole goal in this tournament was just to beat them,” Hancock said. “Since our coaches have kind of a rivalry going, I’m sure their coach talked to them beforehand and said to just pick up the intensity against us.”
The game was extra special for Hancock because he attended Carroll when he was a freshman three years ago. “I knew their whole team. It means a lot to be able to play against my friends and have a good competition and beat them,” he said.
This was the first time the two schools have met. Faith has tried to schedule games with Carroll before but the Dragons refused to play them. “It certainly seems that way,” Grapevine Faith assistant coach Todd Pipes said when asked if he believed Carroll simply did not want to play against them. “It was one excuse after another. ‘Our schedule’s full, our schedule’s full; and then last year it was, ‘We can’t play private schools.'”
Pipes talked about how much this tournament means for his team saying, “This is the highest competition tournament that we can find. There’s a little bit more motivation to try to get into it because of them, but if it weren’t for them we would still try to be in this. It just makes it a little more awesome.”
Hinkley found the Lions’ win to be especially important because it “show[ed] that we can beat competition outside of our TAPPS area.” Pipes bragged more on his players saying, “It means that we can play with anyone. I mean, you got to think, the teams that we played today are ranked top ten in the nation. This is amazing. It just means that these boys have been working hard and it’s been paying off.”
The Lions’ win allowed them to continue on in the tournament. They will play Saturday morning at 9:30 at Birdville ISD’s Fine Arts and Athletic Complex in North Richland Hills. “We’ve had a couple injuries today, so they just have to get some rest,” Pipes said.
“That was one of the biggest games of the year besides state, so it was just very big pressure on all of us, but we came through tonight,” Cannon said. “Thanks for all the support from all the Faith fans that were here tonight. We’re on a roll.”
To see this article as it was originally published in the Grapevine Faith RAWR, click here.