Kilgore Takes Down Mabank on PKs in Regional Semis
LONGVIEW – There didn’t appear to be an end in sight.
After a scorching start to a Region II 4A regional semifinal game between Kilgore and Mabank, both teams cooled considerably in the second half. Overtime proved fruitless, and players lined up for penalty kicks to decide the fate of their season.
The first 12 kicks went through without much difficulty. When Maria Whitaker nailed the 13th in a row, there was little doubt Mabank would have an answer. But Sarah Loomis sent Chloe Reese’s attempt to the ground, clinching a 7-6 victory for the Lady Bulldogs in the shootout after a 2-2 tie in regulation.
It was redemption for Loomis. Kilgore fell to Athens on penalty kicks in this round last season. Coach Heidi Hagan said Loomis was determined not to go out the same way.
“She was like, ‘I’m not letting that happen again,’” Hagan said. “When she saved that last ball, it was just so great for them making their shots for one and then to keep going. Then, her stopping that last ball.”
Kilgore had to come from behind, a position it has not often been in this season.
The Lady Bulldogs fell behind after Maysi Hinkle scored a free kick from 25 yards out. The ball grazed Loomis’ hand, but fell behind her and into the net.
It didn’t take long for Kilgore to answer.
Less than five minutes later, Kylie Nichols sent in a line drive from more than 30 yards out to even the score.
Bri Martin scored the final goal of the half about 10 minutes later. There was an attempt that Loomis saved, but a scrum near the goal proved confusing, as Martin found the back of the net. That sent Mabank into halftime with a 2-1 advantage.
The Lady Panthers were aggressive all half, forcing Kilgore to play out of its comfort zone. There were a combined 21 shots in the first. Hagan said she used halftime as a reminder to relax her team and get them back to controlling the pace.
“That first half was real emotional for them,” Hagan said. “The second half, we talked and they talked about how we need to play our game and step up and do what we do best. We gave it everything we had.”
Mabank wouldn’t score for the rest of regulation.
Although Kilgore never led, it didn’t need to. It got a goal from Emma Taylor only three minutes into the second half. She kicked the ball just over the goalkeeper’s reach and watched as it curved down into the goal for the tie.
Fatigue set in after that, with far less shots from both teams in the last 20 minutes of regulation. But that goal was all Kilgore needed to force overtime and ultimately move on.
The Lady Bulldogs will face the winner of Pleasant Grove and Terrell in the regional final game at 11 a.m. Saturday in Longview.
“I try to take it just one game at a time,” Hagan said. “I knew if we won this game we could watch the next one to see what we had to do to prepare for tomorrow and kind of talk about. I didn’t want to think ahead so I just focused on Mabank first and now I’m fixin’ to focus on (Pleasant Grove-Terrell).”