Kilgore Girls Give School Two Opportunities For State Tournament Berth With 3-2 Win Against Nevada Community
TYLER -- It's a year of firsts for the Kilgore girls soccer team.
The Lady Bulldogs will play in their first regional championship game today after knocking out Nevada Community by a score of 3-2 in their first-ever regional semifinal match Friday in the Class 4A Region II tournament at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler.
Kilgore will face Athens, also in its first regional title game, at 1:30 p.m. today inside Rose Stadium. The match follows the Kilgore boys soccer team as it tries to reach a second straight state tournament setting.
"It's awesome," Lady Bulldogs coach Heidi Hagan said. "They were winning and we were still at the school. We kept hearing the score and I think it excited the girls. We got here and we saw them. I think they were real excited and wanted to come out and do the same thing."
The girls' success spells double trouble for their opponent plus the boys' opponent, Henderson. There are two reasons for Kilgore residents to make the trip into Tyler instead of being forced to pick a team to support.
Fans that came out for the regional semifinal games saw a girls side build a 2-0 advantage midway through the first half against Community (12-10). From there, Kilgore (20-5-2) maintained at least a one-goal advantage.
Community made it interesting through the game's final 7:24. Keely Morrow, a forward, finished Hannah Decker's corner kick to bring the match to its final score.
Kilgore fell back on defense and didn't allow another shot on goal. Community could not win possession from the Lady Bulldogs through the final 90 seconds of play.
Leslie Bennett tallied what ultimately was the game-winning goal from 18 yards with 12 minutes left in the first half. It gave the Lady Bulldogs a 3-1 lead.
Community's Logan Bruffet had cut the lead down to a goal at the 26:10 mark of the frame. A little more than a minute after Kilgore built the 2-0 edge.
Katy Raby knocked in a pass from Daria Rossum in the match's seventh minute to open scoring. Five minutes later, Rossum got on the score sheet by pulling down a corner kick attempt.
"It was a hard fought game for both teams," Hagan said. "I thought both teams controlled the ball well. We had some moments where we'd look flat, a little bit, and then some moments where we'd pick it back up. We just continued to fight to the end. I think it made a difference."
Kilgore and Athens met twice during the regular season. Each team won a game.
The Lady Bulldogs edged Athens, 3-2, in a neutral site game in Palestine on Jan. 7. Athens won at Kilgore, 4-3, on Feb. 2 before the respective teams' district seasons started.
"It is amazing," Hagan said. "I get choked up thinking about it because I'm so proud of these girls. It's exciting because we've never been this far. Their work ethic, their attitudes, they're trying so hard to make it. They've been fighting since the beginning of the year and this is where it has gotten us."