HARKER HEIGHTS — Harker Heights head coach Jared Cruddas said, in many ways, the Lady Knights’ roller coaster season has mirrored that of freshman Gracie Grimm.
On Friday, Grimm and the Lady Knights were riding high as the freshman tied her career-high with three goals in a 4-0 victory against Killeen at Harker Heights High School.
Senior Casey Cox scored the other goal for Heights (7-9, 5-5 8-5A), which moved into a fourth-place tie with Ellison.
Heights and Ellison meet in a rematch of the Lady Eagles’ 1-0 win earlier this season Tuesday in Harker Heights.
“We felt a little stagnant the past couple of games,” Cruddas said. “We saw a lot of growth in the preseason and leading up to district. We’re on the right path now.”
On Friday, Cox got the Lady Knights started with a 20th-minute goal for a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after that, Grimm put Heights up 2-0 in the 28th minute thanks to an unlikely assist from goalkeeper Caitlin Dumond.
“It was pretty,” Cox said after the game.
The assist, which Cruddas estimated was a 60-yard punt that Grimm played on one bounce, was an example of what Dumond brings to the Lady Knights.
“We couldn’t ask for a more all-around keeper,” Cruddas said. “It’s rare you find a keeper that can take goal kicks and kick them 40-50 yards down the field on the girl’s side. And then her punts, her punts carry 60-70 yards, and it’s definitely an offensive threat for us.”
With a 2-0 lead at halftime, Grimm and Heights were far from done.
Grimm busted the game open in the 46th minute, when she scored a pair of goals, the first of which came after she knifed past multiple Killeen defenders for a 3-0 lead.
“She makes opponents look like they’re standing still,” Cruddas said. “She just cuts and her speed doesn’t change. It’s quite amazing.”
Thirty-five seconds later, Grimm completed her hat trick with a deep goal that put Heights up 4-0.
“It was at the top of the 18, and I kind of just passed it in,” Grimm said.
Grimm said she feels privileged to be a key contributor in her first varsity season, and her teammates are just as happy to have her.
“We feel honored to have such a great player on our team and also a great person,” Cox said. “Because she’s not only great on the field, she’s also great off the field, so she’s just a great person to have around.”
Killeen, meanwhile, fell for the eighth time in league play, but head coach Richard Romeo was happy with the way the Lady Kangaroos (2-12-2, 1-8) played in the second half after coming out flat in the first.
“In the second half, we played much, much better. We gave up a couple of early goals, but I thought it was night and day the way we played,” he said.
“Obviously Kaitlyn McVeigh played absolutely outstanding in the second half. You can say that about (junior forward) Alyssa Williams and our midfielder Alexyss Capestany, (sophomore midfielder) Alexandra Summers, they all played well.”
Cruddas felt his team had been playing a bit stagnant of late, so Friday’s game was a welcome sign for Heights and Grimm heading into the big rematch with Ellison on Tuesday.
“She’s really struggled to find the back of the net,” Cruddas said of Grimm, “so we’re happy she’s actually finding it.”