WACO — The match felt as if it was over almost as soon as it began. Mansfield needed a mere 23 to seconds to get on the scoreboard, taking the opening kickoff directly down the field, where Paige Taylor quickly put Copperas Cove in a hole to begin the Region I-5A playoff opener Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium.
Things only got worse from there for the Lady Bulldawgs as the Lady Tigers dominated possession, delivering shots on goal at will en route to a 7-0 bi-district victory.
After the loss, Copperas Cove sophomore goalkeeper Alex Johnson admitted falling into an immediate hole was difficult to deal with.
“It’s very frustrating,” Johnson said, “and a little bit crushing.”
Senior midfielder Shelbie Letzer echoed Johnson’s emotions.
“It’s hard when you’ve been waiting so long (to play) and it is taken away from you right at the (start),” she said. “When a team comes out that fast, you know how great they are going to be.”
It did not take long for Mansfield to prove its opening goal was not a fluke. Lady Tiger forwards Sidney Leroy and Laura Miranda each scored within two minutes of one another, giving Mansfield a comfortable 3-0 cushion in the 19th minute.
“Their girls were fast, they were passing around us and they had a good one-touch,” Letzer said.
Despite trailing by three goals at halftime, Copperas Cove head coach Hagen Streckel was not overly concerned about the deficit, but he knew his offense had its hands full.
“We’ve been down in a hole before, and we’ve got girls who are just gritty and fight back,” he said. “But when you can’t possess the ball, (it) becomes difficult because all you are doing is chasing the ball. That is demoralizing for a defense because they want to take a break here and there, and they just didn’t get any breaks.”
Mansfield (21-3) finished the first half with a 20-1 advantage in shots on goal before recording an additional 17 attempts in the second half.
“It was very frustrating to get the ball, try to clear it and have it come straight back,” Johnson said. “It was nerve-wracking.”
Letzer produced the Lady Bulldawgs’ lone first-half shot attempt in the 31st minute, and Copperas Cove did not deliver another shot on goal until the midway point of the second half. The Lady Bulldawgs (15-11) finished the game with three shot attempts as they lost in the opening round of the playoffs for a third consecutive year.
“I hope our younger talent can step up and fill some pretty big shoes,” Streckel said. “I think we have a group that can score, but we have to strengthen the defense because that is going to be a makeshift.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org