CORSICANA — Harker Heights didn’t make as many mistakes Friday as it did the first time it played Midlothian.
But Midlothian capitalized on the chances it did get at Tiger Stadium, and it helped them to a 3-0 win in the bi-district round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Midlothian advances to the area round of the playoffs where it will meet the winner of Flower Mound and Colleyville Heritage while Heights ends its season after its first playoff appearance in 10 years.
Kamryn Martin scored two first-half goals for the Lady Panthers on an assist off a free kick and a penalty kick barely five minutes later.
But after falling 5-0 when the teams met in January, Heights showed the Lady Panthers and itself how far it as come since.
“(Midlothian coach Sid Danner) said that the girls have come a long way, and I agree with him,” Harker Heights head coach Jared Cruddas said. “We frustrated them, we got behind the ball, we played very good defense.”
Cruddas said his team was expecting Midlothian to try to dominate possession, and that’s exactly what the Lady Panthers did Friday.
Heights did a good job of turning Midlothian away early as junior goalkeeper Caitlin Dumond saved two shots in the first 10 minutes.
But Midlothian eventually found a way to get on the board, starting with a long free kick in the 15th minute that bounced into the box where Martin was waiting to head it in for the first goal of the game.
Shortly after that, Martin was fouled in the box, giving her a penalty shot that she put in for a 2-0 lead in the 21st minute.
“I felt like I really helped our team get that little confidence boost,” Martin said. “So, it was good to know that I could help contribute that.”
But even down two goals at the half, Heights didn’t let up the defensive intensity.
“I asked the girls at halftime can you stay in this game?” Cruddas said. “And they said absolutely — no question, no doubt.”
Midlothian scored its one second-half goal on a deep shot by Alexa England that came from nearly 30 yards out but found the left top corner of the goal for a 3-0 lead.
Afterward, Danner said his team was fortunate to come up with a win that was closer than the final score.
“My hat’s off to coach (Cruddas),” Danner said. “He came out with a gameplan, and we had two set pieces that scored and only had one run play.”
And while Heights wasn’t able to find the back of the net, Cruddas was pleased with the Lady Knights’ ability to create opportunities, particularly late in the game.
“We defended for most of the game, but the first time we met them we had zero opportunities on goal, and we walked away with eight tonight,” Cruddas said. “So, definitely steps in the right direction.”
Yet as monumental a season as it was for the Lady Knights, Cruddas said he and his team won’t be reminiscing on it anytime soon.
Instead, Heights will be looking forward in hopes of building on what was accomplished this season.
“Those girls that came on the trip, they know what it feels like to be here,” Cruddas said. “And to get back, it takes a lot more commitment and dedication.”
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