Royce Mitchel saw exactly what he wanted from his players in the second half: Fight.
After sloppy defense contributed to Harker Heights giving up three goals in the first half, the Lady Knights head coach witnessed his team perform a mental turnaround following halftime.
It was not enough to overcome the poor start, though, and the Lady Knights lost to Leander Rouse 3-0 in the Centex Shootout cross-pool championship at Leo Buckley Stadium.
Although Harker Heights (3-1 overall) did not capitalize on the opportunity to earn an early-season title, Mitchel was pleased to see his team respond to adversity in the second half by shutting out the Lady Raiders and cutting their shot attempts in half.
“It came down to each individual girl needing to make a change, and, overall, they did,” Mitchel said. “I don’t think I really changed anything coaching. I just reminded them that it has to come from themselves, and they adapted, so that was good.”
Rouse (4-0) dominated the field in the first half, firing off four shots before Katie Glenn slipped the ball past Harker Heights goalkeeper Cathy Coffman with 14 minutes remaining. Less than five minutes later, Katherine Lugo lofted a shot over Coffman’s and into the far corner of the net, giving the Lady Raiders a 2-0 advantage.
The score held until Glenn connected on her second goal of the half with 18 seconds remaining to put Rouse up 3-0.
“When they keep coming at you with shot after shot after shot, it gets really tiring really fast,” Coffman said, “but you have to be able to have that instinct to get back up on your feet and be ready for the next ball that comes at you. It is really tough, but I am up for any challenge.”
The Lady Knights’ offense improved following halftime, recording its first shot less than a minute into the second half, but Harker Heights could only produce three shots total in the match compared to Rouse’s 15.
Harker Heights advanced to the championship match by beating Robinson 1-0 and Austin LBJ on penalty kicks Friday before defeating Elgin on penalty kicks after playing to a scoreless tie Saturday.
Coffman, who finished with a dozen saves in the title match, earned all-tournament honors, joining teammates Kaylee Kellam, Samantha Hammonds and Blake Stender on the list.
“We are a playoff team,” Coffman said. “I’m ready to bring my ‘A’ game until we get there. To get there, we are going to have to work as a team every game, not just in the second half.”
Copperas Cove falls in championship match
For the first time during this young season, Copperas Cove was shut out.
In fact, the Lady Bulldawgs did not even attempt a shot on goal during their cross-pool championship match against Fort Worth Arlington Heights at the CenTex Shootout.
But they still had a shot a victory. After playing to a scoreless tie in regulation, the tournament title was decided by penalty kicks, and the Yellowjackets delivered three times to earn a 3-2 shootout victory. Copperas Cove sophomores Angelica Ramos and Amanda Arrisola each had opportunities to tie the score, but Ramos’ attempt sailed high and Arrisola’s bounced off the crossbar.
“This is nothing to be sad about,” Cove coach Hagen Streckel said. “I’m looking for effort throughout the entire match. Not too many games this year are going to be decided by penalty kicks, so I’m looking for player development. Near the end of the game, we had a little more possession time and started taking it to them and playing as physical as they were. We started playing the game we wanted to play.”
But it was too late.
After opening the tournament with a 1-0 victory against Lampasas and posting consecutive four-goal wins against Shoemaker and Gatesville, the Lady Bulldawgs (3-1 overall) rarely threatened to score against the Yellowjackets.
Like her coach, Cove midfielder Shelbie Letzer pointed to Arlington Height’s physical play as a determining factor.
“It just throws everyone off,” the junior said. “It is hard to deal with. It shouldn’t (affect us), but sometimes it still does.”
Junior defender Kristin McDonald, senior forward Genesis Rivera and Ramos each made the all-tournament team for Cove.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com