By James Harper
The Cove Herald
A&M Consolidated didn't have the ball in Copperas Cove's zone all night. It only seemed that way.
The Lady Tigers dominated the first half and played well enough in the second to earn a 3-1 victory over the Lady Dawgs on Tuesday night.
The loss postponed any playoff-clinching celebration Cove had in mind.
The Lady Dawgs are fighting for just their second playoff appearance since 2002 and will clinch it with a win in their final two games.
From the beginning, A&M attacked the Cove's zone pushing passes past the Lady Dawgs' defense for open looks.
"(A&M is a) much better ball-handling team. They have so many quality players," said Cove coach Hagen Streckel. "It was difficult for us to pressure them."
However, the Lady Tigers (15-3-1, 11-1 12-5A) couldn't put a score on the board - or at least as many as they wanted.
Six minutes into the game, Courtney Rogers passed to freshman Jaylen Hinckley, who kicked it past the fingertips of Cove goalkeeper Kaitlyn Barrick for the 1-0 lead with 34 minutes remaining. For the next 22 minutes Cove (11-11-1, 5-6-1 12-5A) danced its way out of a serious hole.
"We started the day today with the plan that we'll treat this game like a playoff (game)," Streckel said. "This is the type of quality team we'll face in the playoffs. We played like it."
Hinckley had two wide-open looks at an empty goal at the 30- and 23-minute marks, but managed to kick it directly into the crossbar on the first attempt and over the goal completely on the second.
With 22 minutes left in the first half, the Lady Tigers slashed through the Lady Dawgs' defense as Consol junior Carolina Orsi sent a trough pass to Kirsten Bevan, who having seen Barrick go toward Orsi kicked the ball to Barrick's left to a completely open net.
However, the ball never made it to the back of the net. Barrick switched directions and made the diving save.
"(Barrick) has trouble deciding when to come off the line or not," Streckel said. "She did a way better job of that tonight, which was her motivation."
Despite the save, the lead eventually ballooned to 3-0.
Orsi took the ball to Barrick's right, but kicked it to the left side of the goal, extending the Lady Tigers' lead to 2-0 with 12 minutes left and then scored A&M's final goal of the night with 37 seconds remaining in the half.
Cove held the Tigers scoreless for the rest of the match.
"I thought we played tougher second half than what we did in the first (half)." Streckel said.
The Lady Dawgs scored the lone second-half goal with 30 minutes left in the match. Sophomore Shelbie Letzer got a free kick and scored the goal over the Consol wall.
"This is the first time all year that we have played a whole game through," Streckel said. "I was pretty pleased (with the effort)."
Consolidated 8, Copperas Cove 1 - At College Station, Anthony Gallick scored the Bulldawgs' lone goal as Cove (2-12-1, 1-8-1 12-5A) struggled against district title-contending A&M Consolidated (13-5-3, 10-1-1).