Kilgore Girls Pound Athens For First State Tournament Appearance In Program History
TYLER -- Kilgore battled some nerves early.
You'd never know it if you just looked at the final score. The Lady Bulldogs rolled Athens, 7-0, Saturday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in the Class 4A Region II title game to reach the UIL Soccer State Tournament later this week in Georgetown.
"It's really exciting," senior forward Daria Rossum said. "I feel like I'm going to cry. I'm very excited. I can't even get the words out of my mouth."
Rossum's actions speak louder than words. She scored a hat trick in her final high school soccer game within East Texas.
A trifecta from the Texas A&M-Commerce commitment was just enough to supplant Emily Nutt's two-goal performance on her 18th birthday as a secondary storyline behind the overall team.
Wednesday's state semifinals appearance will be a first for the girls program. That's the big story.
"You talk about excitement and such an accomplishment for these girls, I am just so happy for them," head coach Heidi Hagan said. "Their determination, coming in here ready to play. You can just see it. They just took it one game at a time. Man, what a great way to go to state. With the boys and the girls."
Kilgore's boys team clinched its program's third state tournament berth a few hours beforehand at Rose Stadium.
The Lady Hornets (16-9-2) got the two best scoring chances early in the first half. They missed a fairly open goal twice.
Kilgore (22-5-2) began to get its bearings midway through the first frame and permanently took control of the game at the 19:54 mark on a play Athens fans will resent for years.
Rossum broke free from the Lady Hornets back line to face the Lady Hornets' goalkeeper one-on-one. The keeper charged and slid to break up Rossum's run, but the Abilene-based officiating crew determined it was a reckless challenge.
The ball sailed back toward midfield. That gave the impression to spectators the keeper got all ball, which would not be a foul.
Not only was a foul called in the penalty area to create a penalty kick opportunity for the Lady Bulldogs, the Athens keeper was given a yellow card. Texas high school rules dictate players that receive yellow cards have to temporarily leave play.
"She looked like she came up with cleats," Hagan, on the other end of the call, said. "After I watched it on the board, definitely, but I thought it was in the first place."
A backup keeper had to come into the game to face Nutt, Kilgore's selection for the kick.
Nutt shot left and gave Kilgore a permanent lead.
Angelina Chavez got Nutt on the scoresheet again 13 minutes later with a feed off a corner kick for a 2-0 halftime advantage.
Things really deteriorated for the Lady Hornets 13 minutes into the second half.
Katy Raby came up with a rebound off Athens' primary keeper and netted the second chance.
Rossum scored three goals inside the final 20 minutes. Each came in a one-on-one situation. The first two scores were 35 seconds apart and the third came after a frustrated Lady Hornets player picked up a red card on a bad tackle beyond the field of play.
A red card automatically ejects a player and no substitution is allowed.
Fortunately, the victim, Kaitlin Word, walked away from the incident after a few moments on the ground.
Jasper, another East Texas school, plus Kennedale and Salado won the other three regional championship games Saturday to make up the remainder of the four-team state field.
Kilgore will face one of the aforementioned teams Wednesday at Georgetown's Birkelbach Field. That site also will host Thursday's 4A state championship game.
The UIL will announce the semifinal pairings Sunday.
"It's pretty amazing," Nutt said. "There's really not words for it. I'm pretty sure the whole team is really excited. It's amazing to be the first ever in Kilgore history."