Jasper Falls To Kennedale In Class 4A Championship Game
GEORGETOWN -- Jasper got a little closer to the program's ultimate goal Thursday, but the state title it seeks will have to wait at least one more season.
Kennedale defeated the Lady Dawgs, 6-0, in the Class 4A state championship game at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown and successfully defended its 2015 crown. It was the same score Kennedale put up on Kilgore in the duo's state semifinal game Wednesday.
"They're really solid," Jasper coach Gabriela Carter said. "That's why they're state champs. They had a really good passing game, they were aggressive from the beginning. We seemed to rattle them at first, but then they showed us why they're state champs. My girls gave it everything they had to the end. That's all I can ask for."
Jasper (23-3-1) surpassed its previous program best of a state semifinals appearance in 2015 with the title appearance. The program found its way back to the Georgetown setting despite the absence of a single senior, an advantage the 2015 team possessed.
Carter's team found more success early against Kennedale (27-2) than Kilgore did in the prior round. Goalkeeper Yvette Carter made six saves through the game's first 20 minutes to keep the top team in the state off the board.
Then Abigail Olmos got into the mix. She recorded a first half, state championship game hat trick.
Olmos, a senior midfielder and the title game's most valuable player, broke the scoreless struggle between the Lady Dawgs backfield and Kennedale's ever threatening attack on a 13-yard shot at the 19:33 mark of the first half.
Less than four minutes later, Olmos put home a beautiful crossing pass from frehsman Eryka McIntyre.
Six minutes after her second goal, Olmos won a rebound off Yvette Carter and rolled in for a defenseless score.
Kennedale took a 4-0 lead to the break when McIntyre fed Bailey Crowley on another cross field pass.
Alexis Thornton and Cara Hunt added scores in the second half for the winning side.
Jasper got away two shots in the game. Both came in the second half.
"We're glad we got that experience again," Gabriela Carter said. "The opportunity to have the experience again. We're more than determined. Last year was third, this year is second. Hey, next year, we're shooting for first."
Kennedale's nature of victory gave Jasper some in-game time to reflect on its season. There weren't many tears when the team was handed its state runner-up trophy and individual medals.
More than that, the loss wasn't a finality.
All 17 playoff team players will be eligible to return next season. Ten of the participants in the state game will be available for two or more seasons.
East Texas is still seeking its first soccer state championship of 2016 and its second in history. Palestine's boys team will face Progreso at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the boys 4A state championship game in Georgetown.
Lufkin's 2015 boys team accomplished the state feat.
Kennedale should be a major player once again next season, but Jasper will likely be favored to return to the state tournament in 2017.
"They know what Jasper soccer is all about," Gabriela Carter said. "I've called around to coaches to talk about different things here and there. I didn't think they'd recognize me. They did. It's pretty amazing for people across the state to know about you, so that's pretty good.
"The girls, they've been working hard since they were young. This is just the fruit. You know, the rewards that are coming now. As long as they keep dedicating themselves to their sport -- They love it. They're in it every day."