GATESVILLE — Tracy Brantley was afraid her team would overlook Gatesville. She was right.
Looking to clinch their second consecutive District 34-4A championship with a victory over the district’s lone winless team, the Lady Badgers quickly caused their head coach to realize her worst fears.
“I was kind of worried in the beginning,” Brantley said. “I guess they needed a little rude awakening, because Gatesville had a breakaway and a shot. Fortunately, (goalkeeper Lindsey Whaley) covered it up, and then we got on a roll.”
Lampasas exploded for seven first-half goals en route to a 10-1 victory, securing back-to-back district titles for the program that won just two matches in 2011.
For Lady Badgers captain Maria Salinas, the repeat is especially meaningful after seeing the team struggle.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “I am so happy we won. It is my senior year, so I am really excited we won the district championship. I mean, we are winning.”
Salinas scored twice in the lopsided victory, while two teammates recorded hat tricks.
Senior Bailey Hilgenberg got the offense rolling for the Lady Badgers (8-1 34-4A) and Salinas followed to quickly build a two-goal advantage. Then, the juniors took complete control.
Defending district MVP Analise Watson and classmate Caitlyn Shaughnessy alternated goals for the remainder of the first half, with Watson’s third goal giving Lampasas a 7-0 halftime lead.
“I was definitely going for it,” Watson said. “It is awesome to get a hat trick. That was my first one this season, so this feels really good.”
With the trio of goals, Watson improves her season total to 28, and with the outcome already practically decided, Brantley moved some of her players around to allow for her less-experienced players to garner some valuable minutes before the postseason begins.
Rearranging her personnel served another purpose as well.
“They had fun,” Brantley said. “I got to play the people who don’t ever get to play. The girls got to play different positions and realized why that’s not where they need to play. They just had a good time, and that’s how we need to start spring break. It was the perfect beginning.”
The Lady Badgers were not done though.
Minutes into the second half, senior Aimee Henderson increased Lampasas’ cushion to 8-0 off a goalkeeper deflection before Gatesville (0-9 34-4A) scored its lone goal of the match.
Shaughnessy completed her hat trick with less than five minutes remaining and Salinas concluded the scoring with 35 seconds left in regulation.
Lampasas is idle until March 18, when it will travel to Robinson for its final regular-season match before embarking on the program’s third consecutive playoff trip.
Watson welcomes the time off.
“We need a little break,” she said. “We will still be practicing, of course, but I think it is a good little break from school and soccer every day. And this is a good way to go out.”