With one of the hottest scorers and keepers, in District 8-5A, Harker Heights appears to be getting hot at the right time with the end of the regular season just two weeks away.
But after 4-0 wins against Killeen and Ellison, first-year head coach Jared Cruddas said the Lady Knights’ success was bigger than just two players.
“We’re a team,” he said. “There’s no separation. It’s 80 full minutes of pressure.”
Yet when Heights played Ellison earlier in the district season, the Lady Knights weren’t able to pull out a close game, ultimately falling 1-0 on a 74th-minute goal.
But on Tuesday, the Lady Knights were determined to make the rematch go more like their last game, a 4-0 win against Killeen, than the first meeting with Ellison.
“We wanted to play our style this time,” senior Blake Stender said. “I don’t feel like we did the first.”
Heights did just that as Gracie Grimm picked up right where she left off after a hat trick against Killeen, staking Heights to a 2-0 lead by halftime.
Grimm completed her second straight hat trick just minutes into the second half as she continues to impress the hard-to-impress Cruddas.
“She’s something else,” he said.
But if anyone is playing as well as Grimm lately it has been goalie Caitlin Dumond.
Dumond proved Tuesday with her second straight shutout and a highlight-reel save where she saved a shot and a rebound attempt with both shots coming right in front of the goal.
Cruddas said her play is the culmination of a steady improvement that has continued all season.
“In the preseason, we took her to some pretty tough tournaments, and she got some shots taken on her. It’s really coming tenfold now,” Cruddas said. “All those attempts that she was taking from quality players, and now when she gets the opportunity to make a big-time save she’s making it.”
Heights has taken advantage of its most recent opportunities with similar vigor and now sits ahead of Ellison points-wise in the district standings.
But with Temple and Waco Midway, two playoff teams, on tap to close out the regular season, a playoff berth certainly isn’t promised.
Yet Cruddas was confident his team can get the job done after the way it has played the last two games.
“If we play like that,” Cruddas said, “I don’t think anybody can beat us in district.”