Shelbie Letzer’s passes were pinpoint. So were Ali McBride’s shots.
The Copperas Cove tandem were in sync from the beginning of the match, needing 61 seconds to combine for the first of three goals for McBride as the Lady Bulldawgs defeated Shoemaker 4-1 to take one step closer toward a third-consecutive playoff appearance.
For Copperas Cove head coach Hagen Streckel, watching Letzer and McBride work in unison was almost as satisfying as the victory itself.
“Shelbie can find her almost anywhere,” Streckel said, “which is really kind of cool. Those accurate passes really make for some good shots for (McBride). It is like a dream come true.”
For the Lady Grey Wolves, however, it was more of a nightmare.
Almost immediately, Letzer found McBride for an early goal before the duo combined again 14 minutes later, putting an inexperienced Shoemaker team into a tough position right off the bat.
“I have 10 seniors, but most of them have not been playing soccer very long, so I have to teach how to (handle adversity),” Shoemaker head coach Central Hicks said. “Its difficult, but they are learning to understand and realize that is not the end. That is what we are focusing on. That does not mean the game is over.”
But it took a while before the realization would sink in for the Lady Grey Wolves. With 16 minutes remaining before halftime, the Lady Bulldawgs (14-7, 6-4 District 8-5A) increased their advantage as Letzer found the back of the net off an assist from midfielder Cheyenne Huereque, giving Copperas Cove a 3-0 lead it would take into halftime.
“Right as it went off my foot, I knew it was going in,” Letzer said.
The score held through the first 25 minutes of the second half until McBride completed her hat trick off Letzer’s pass.
“We work so hard together and we passed so well,” McBride said. “I think we did really good today.”
Trailing 4-0, the Lady Grey Wolves, who fell to 1-9 in district, finally turned things around, threatening several times before Madison Woodard slipped a shot past Copperas Cove goalkeeper Alex Johnson with 12:35 remaining in the match to avoid a shutout.
Despite occurring too late in the match to prevent a loss, Hicks was pleased to see his team turn around its performance.
“Those are the girls I was looking for,” the coach said. “When they showed up, that made me feel a whole lot better, and I’m looking forward to having that continue.”
Overall, however, the Lady Grey Wolves simply could not produce enough offense, finishing with only two shots in the match — one each half.
While Shoemaker is struggling to create cohesion, Streckel believes his team is rounding into form at the perfect time.
“We are exactly where we need to be,” he said.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com