Kennedale Girls End Kilgore’s Breakthrough Season In State Semifinals
GEORGETOWN -- Kennedale showed no signs of slowing down in its quest to repeat as the Class 4A state champion Wednesday.
The Metroplex squad built a three-goal lead before the eighth minute and cruised to a 6-0 win against Kilgore in Wednesday's state semifinal game on Georgetown's Birkelbach Field.
"I told them, 'When you make it here, everybody's good,'" Lady Bulldogs head coach Heidi Hagan said in defeat. "'You're one of the top four teams in the State of Texas, so everybody's going to be good. You have to go out there and play as hard as you can and do the best that you can.' That team, I will give them credit. They were skilled and very fast and very good."
Kennedale will play Jasper, a fellow East Texas school, in today's state championship match. First kick is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Kilgore (25-6-2) measured up to the general sum of Kennedale's playoff opponents. Kennedale (26-2) has averaged six-goal wins through its first six postseason games.
The Lady Bulldogs closed the book on the best season in school history, culminating with their first-ever state tournament appearance. Fifteen of the 21 varsity players on the playoff roster will return next year.
Freshman midfielder Eryka McIntyre led Kennedale with two goals and an assist.
McIntyre led off scoring by blowing past the Kilgore defense and netting a goal 2:37 into the contest. Alexis Thornton added a score less than a minute later.
Abigail Olmos extended Kennedale's lead to 3-0 with just 7:14 gone in the first half.
Kilgore goalkeeper recovered to break the Class 4A record for saves in a state tournament game. She recorded seven stops, surpassing the six Jasper's Yvette Carter made last season in a state semifinal loss to Princeton.
Incidentally, Carter will be in net against Kennedale today for Jasper. Carter and company got back to the state tournament without any seniors on the current Jasper team.
"The thing now is, 'You've gone farther than any team and you've set the tone for Kilgore,'" Hagan said. "So, now, that's going to be the expectation from here on out. That's going to be what our goal is. To make it here.
"Once you get here, you want to come back."
That closing line put a smile on Hagan's face.
As it was on this day, Kennedale took a 5-0 lead to halftime on a Bailey Crowley shot with 8:17 left in the frame and then McIntyre's impossible to defend boot from distance inside the final two minutes.
Alondra Olmos scored eight minutes into the second half and then Kennedale relaxed back.
Senior forward Daria Rossum built a college prospect career at Kilgore and will play collegiate soccer this fall at Texas A&M-Commerce.
Fellow seniors Leslie Anaya, Mayklia Austin, Chelsea Espinoza, Vanessa Gonzalez and Emily Nutt also will off to bigger things upon graduation in May.
"They're a great group," Hagan said. "You never want to let go. They are a great group of kids and they're going to be very missed, The motivation they brought to this team. For the younger kids, they had someone to look up to. They're definitely going to be missed and there are big shoes to fill."