Lufkin Girls Fall In Penalty Kicks To Mansfield Lake Ridge
TYLER -- Three missed shots in the final three rounds of penalty kicks stopped the Lufkin girls team's playoff quest Friday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Mansfield Lake Ridge capitalized on those misses to squeak out a 3-2 penalty kicks victory in the Class 5A area round following a 1-1 draw through regulation and two 10-minute halves of non-sudden death overtime.
"I'm very proud of these girls," Lady Panthers head coach J. Antonio Encarnacion said. "They battled all the way to the end. When it comes to penalty kicks, it's pretty much one of those things we practice all the time. Tonight, they just didn't want to go in. But I'm definitely proud of each of these kids for what we were able to accomplish this year."
Lufkin, the champions of District 16-5A, dominated possession in the first half of play. Its aggressive dump-and-chase style generated two scoring chances before the intermission.
The Lady Panthers took the lead in the game's 13th minute when forward Abby Horn finished a crossing pass fellow forward Kaitlyn Knowles, but the team hit the left post later in the half and had another shot dink off the cross bar in the second half as Lake Ridge began to solve the attack.
Encarnacion's squad thrived with midfielders and forwards bringing the ball up to the back line of Lake Ridge's defense, kicking the ball behind the line and then having its attackers give chase to create one-on-one situations with Lake Ridge goalkeeper Brooke Lampe.
In addition to the goal and the second chance in the first half, Lufkin beat Lake Ridge's back line four other times. Unfortunately, each of those four occurrences were whistled offsides.
Lake Ridge -- the third-place team from District 14-5A -- ultimately adjusted to the attack by dropping a sweeper farther back and brining Lampe farther up the field. The move limited the amount of offensive space the Lady Panthers had to work with before encountering resistance.
Despite offensive setbacks, the Lady Panthers got within 12:25 of winning the game in regulation while being outshot 11-1 in the second half.
Eryn Harrington got Lake Ridge on the board at that point with a shot that took several bounces before rolling away from goalkeeper Haley Roe.
Lake Ridge hit the left post in its only scoring chance through the two overtime periods. Lufkin's struggles continued and it recorded no shots.
Penalty kicks, the absolute final tiebreaker, could have been the remedy since all offensive activity had stalled.
"I just feel like we lost our middle (presence)," Encarnacion said. "That was the big difference. We didn't have possession like we did in the first half, we were not playing the ball quick and that made the difference in the second half."
Horn and Silvia Santoyo led off the Lady Panthers' penalty kicks with scores, but Lake Ridge simultaneously scored on its first two shots.
The score remained tied 2-2 through the third round with Roe making a stop against Lake Ridge.
Lufkin's forth shooter missed the net and Caitlin Pierce made the team pay with a score to give Lake Ridge a 3-2 lead. Pierce's shot forced the Lady Panthers not only to score in the fifth round but also to make a save.
The fifth shooter's attempt was blocked by Lampe to end the game.
Lake Ridge moved on to face Longview in the regional quarterfinal round of the postseason. Longview eliminated Red Oak elsewhere Friday by a score of 1-0.
Lufkin will graduate just three players in May. The rest of its playoff roster should be intact for its move to Class 6A next season.
"Pretty much everyone is back next year and we're going to be playing in the 6A division," Encarnacion said. "We're proud of these kids and expect to be back."