MADISONVILLE — Amanda Johnson got everything she wanted except the outcome.
After reaching the playoffs for just the third time in the program’s short existence, Gatesville’s season came to a close Friday evening as Hamshire-Fannett defeated the Hornets 4-1 in the Class 4A area round.
Although it was a disappointing finish, it came on the heels of an impressive performance, according to Gatesville’s head coach.
“This team has really bonded,” Johnson said, “and I haven’t seen anything but support for each other out on the field; even when they make mistakes.
“That is so important. I love seeing it, and at halftime, I even said as I was walking, ‘That is what I live for — to see them working together like that.’”
The effort did not translate into enough goals to advance, though.
Hamshire-Fannett dominated possession of the ball for a majority of the contest, including early on as the Lady Longhorns produced seven shots before claiming a 1-0 lead with 27 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the first half.
The goal triggered an offensive outburst as the teams combined to score three times in approximately nine minutes.
Just 5:22 after falling into a hole, Hornets senior Jessica Ortiz tied the score thanks to an assist from sophomore Daci Segraves, and Johnson believes the immediate response was critical to the team’s psyche.
“I think that really helped my girls out,” she said. “That helped them to know they could beat this team, and it wasn’t out of reach.”
The Lady Longhorns needed less than four minutes to reclaim the lead, however, as Brittney Little sent the ball into the back of the net after a shot rebounded off Gatesville goalkeeper Stefany Ortiz.
It was one of 16 saves for the sophomore, who had no previous experience in the sport before joining the Hornets midway though the season.
Despite the lack of experience, Johnson sees a bright future ahead for her newcomer.
“She stepped up,” Johnson said, “and that was an amazing showing.
“She blocked seven shots before they got one past her. It was phenomenal.”
Hamshire-Fannett took the 2-1 advantage into halftime but quickly inflated its cushion once play resumed as Madison Jefferson recorded her second goal with 24:38 remaining. Then, with 4:23 left, Jefferson completed the Lady Longhorns’ scoring by tallying her third goal.
Gatesville (10-8) is losing five seniors — Eve Castelo, Emily Reza, Rhysa Smith, Amy Stephens and Jessica Ortiz — from its roster but has 14 players eligible to return next season, including a dozen underclassmen.
“We got a little sneak peek at next season’s team during last week’s playoff game,” said Johnson of the Hornets’ 10-0 bi-district victory against Anahuac, “and they scored four goals.
“So, hopefully, we’ll be coming back strong.”