Athens Girls Reach State Tournament For First Time
TYLER -- Athens completed a year-long dream Saturday in the girls' Class 4A Region II championship game. That does not mean the story is over though.
The Lady Hornets advanced to the state tournament in Georgetown with a 6-2 win against Terrell. A win nearly as lopsided as last season's loss in the same game at the same CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium venue.
"You don't give up and you work as a team," senior Arkansas forward signee Makayle Traxson said. "We fell apart as a team in the same game last year. Honestly, we started getting a little mean to each other. This year, we really worked on team bonding. We worked as a team, we came together as a team, and the hat trick wouldn't have happened without my team."
That's right. Traxson scored three goals -- and added an assist -- as Athens (16-10-1) smashed the regional championship game barrier.
But goaltending pushed the Lady Hornets over the top as well.
Makayla Lewis was extremely sharp against a set of Terrell attackers that had its moments ahead of some in-game adjustments. She consistently charged out as opposing attackers charged in and helped Athens to multiple quick counter attacks.
Lewis held firm early and helped the East Texas side build a 3-0 lead by the game's 23rd minute with goals from Raygan Young, Kyra Robison and Traxson in succession. The keeper later stopped a good free kick chance and made a kick save when Terrell was rewarded a penalty kick.
Terrell's Genesis Nunez tried to turn the tide with a stolen pass and a goal that made the score 3-1, but Robison upped the lead back to three points before halftime.
Traxson scored her second and third goals in the game's back half. The tallies were sandwiched around Ali Hickman's header finish of a Terrell corner kick.
And regrets from last year's 7-0 loss to Kilgore finally subsided.
"This was what we've wanted to get to since I got on," Lady Hornets coach Mark Hall said. "It's my third season. Every season, we've gone a bit farther and those seasons were history making every year. The senior leadership was the one taking us on that path. It centers and focuses on them. Every year, we're taking it one step further and making history."
Athens joins a state tournament field that features fellow East Texas squad Jasper as well as Stephenville and Boerne. Stephenville upset two-time defending state champion Kennedale in the Region I championship game.
Both girls state semifinal games will be played Wednesday morning at Georgetown's Birckelbach Field. The state championship game is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. kick Thursday at the same site.
The University Interscholastic League will randomly pair the surviving teams together later this weekend.
"It's going to be a lot of anxiety, I think," Traxson said. "But, if we do what we can do, we've got it."