HARKER HEIGHTS — Copperas Cove shook things up Tuesday night.
In a pivotal tilt on the road, the Lady Bulldawgs traveled to Harker Heights and captured a 2-0 win, earning themselves a tie with the Lady Knights for the fourth spot in District 8-6A with just one match to go.
Copperas Cove head coach Pat Rox appreciated his team’s resolve with its back against the wall.
“I thought we played very aggressively and we played a pretty complete game,” Rox said. “We got a little bit discombobulated at the end of the first half and maybe the midpoint of the second, but then we got ourselves back together.
“We are better at marking people than we are at marking spaces, and sometimes we fall back into our old habit of marking spaces and that’s not to our advantage. We’ve just had a heck of a time finishing, and we didn’t do a great job finishing tonight either, but we certainly did better.”
Despite the loss, Lady Knights head coach Sara Easum felt her team fought from beginning to end.
“I thought my girls played very hard,” Easum said. “They really wanted it, but so did Cove. My girls never gave up, and they still kept their heads on their shoulders and still fought for it even up to the last minute.”
The Lady Bulldawgs (5-8 District 8-6A) were rewarded early for their aggressiveness.
With 22 minutes remaining in the first half, Haven Stevenson attacked the box and fired a shot past Harker Heights goalkeeper Senyia Henegar to put Copperas Cove ahead 1-0.
Just three minutes later, Mariah Ruiz appeared to have a breakaway goal for a 2-0 Lady Bulldawgs lead, but was called offside and the point was erased.
Ruiz would eventually get her goal with just eight minutes left in the second half, as she lobbed a long-range shot over the head and behind Lady Knights goalkeeper Alexis Cook, and the ball took one bounce
before crossing the posts to put Copperas Cove up 2-0.
Prior to giving up the first goal of the match, the Lady Knights (5-8 8-6A) did a nice job of foiling Copperas Cove’s attack.
Kayla Donovan jumped in front of a Lady Bulldawgs run and deflected a centered pass out of harm’s way just 10 minutes in, and Henegar registered a save on a deflection in the box to keep the match scoreless with 22 minutes remaining till the break.
Harker Heights had two prime opportunities to score in the second half, the first of which occurred at the midway point. Raquel Hatton fired an outside shot on goal from about 35 yards away, but Copperas Cove goalkeeper Sophia Caro blocked and trapped the ball.
The Lady Knights had another chance with six minutes left. Briahna Henry attacked the goal right in front of Caro and, at close range, Caro aggressively pursued Henry and corralled the ball, causing both players to collide into one another and erasing the scoring opportunity.
The two teams will now take the field Friday in what may turn out to be must-win matches. The Lady Bulldawgs will host Killeen at 7 p.m., and Harker Heights will travel to Shoemaker to play the Lady Grey Wolves at 7:30 p.m.
Rox said Copperas Cove is only halfway through its quest to nab the final playoff spot.
“The bottom line is we’ve got a two-step journey,” Rox said. “We’ve only taken one of those steps, and if we don’t beat Killeen on Friday, then it doesn’t mean anything. If we don’t take that second step, the first one doesn’t matter.”
Easum said the Lady Knights will need to be prepared for Shoemaker.
“They play differently than Cove,” Easum said.
“We’ve got different things we need to work on in our practices this week, and we’re hoping for the best for Friday and hoping to take that fourth-place spot.”