GATESVILLE — Ryan Race could see his team being pulled away from its goal.
After going scoreless through the first 17 minutes, Waco scored three unanswered goals in the span of seven minutes to take control of the game before sending the Badgers to their second consecutive playoff-opening loss.
Following the Lions’ third goal, Race could see his team’s season-long goal of giving the program a postseason victory was starting to slip away.
“It is like getting caught in quicksand,” said Race, Lampasas' head coach. “It just takes one bad thing, and then you are suffocating.”
The Badgers never recovered from the early setbacks, getting shut out
5-0 by the Lions in the Region III-4A bi-district match.
While the outcome was disappointing, in the bigger picture, Race found plenty of positives, especially the team’s recent string of success.
Lampasas has reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons following a drought stretching back to 2006, and its third-place finish in district was an improvement over last year’s fourth-place showing.
“We’ll keep working,” Race said. “We have a good group of graduating seniors, but there is still a good group left. ... We have moved so far ahead of two years ago.”
Despite all their regular-season accomplishments, the Badgers are still searching for postseason success.
For the match’s first 18 minutes, the teams went back and forth with no score, but eventually, Waco began pulling away.
The Lions tallied their first score on an own goal after the ball was popped high into the air before getting knocked into the net by a Lampasas player.
Less than three minutes later, another ball dribbled past Badgers goalkeeper Knijan Bell-Williams after being batted around, and the third came off a corner kick with 16:31 remaining in the first half.
“The first three goals were ridiculously unfortunate,” Race said. “That kind of turned the tide of the match.”
Waco increased its advantage to 4-0 in the final three minutes before halftime, and despite having several opportunities to score after intermission, nothing worked its way into the net.
The Lions added their final goal with 13:24 left in the match.
“In the second half, we got out of the sand,” Race said. “We played much better and had a few good opportunities, but just couldn’t get them in.”
Lampasas (10-10) is losing seniors Bell-Williams, Carlos Ponce, Josh Parrish, Javier Torres, Dustin Rumple, Cody Forrester and Alex Mantha, but Race believes the program is on the cusp of change after years of struggling.
“We are tying to change a mindset,” he said. “Realistically, the kids love soccer. They want to be around it, they are hungry for it, and they want more and more of it.
“I’m trying to get them to taste success. We keep tasting a little bit more success and are trying to get over that hump.
“For the longest time, they have not had a winning tradition, and we are trying to build that.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org