The Hornets have found no shortage of motivation this playoff season.
As Gatesville’s girls soccer team took the field for its fifth consecutive bi-district playoff game, the Hornets had plenty to fight for — both on and off the pitch.
After a first-round 4-0 elimination loss last season and losing seven seniors from last year’s squad, this season’s returning players were determined to extend the season.
With just 67 seconds left to play, junior Kaity Ferguson punctuated the Hornets’ bi-district championship with a penalty kick score in a 4-0 shutout of Madisonville.
“I just kind of wanted one for myself to end it,” Ferguson said. But we all also wanted to do it for the seniors, this was a game for them.”
As she stepped up to the ball, her other reason for leaving it all on the field Friday afternoon in Mexia came to mind for Ferguson — the pink bows she and her teammates had tied in their hair.
“I’m wearing it for my aunt, for breast cancer,” the junior midfielder said. “We all had someone we were playing for so we just went out there to get that result.”
Gatesville was excited to extend the season and be on the other side of that 4-0 score this year.
“It’s awesome that our efforts are paying off,” said Ferguson. “Because we’ve put in so much hard work the past years and we haven’t gotten a result until this year.”
The chemistry of the team has also helped the Hornets pull together.
“We kind of lost it after last year,” noted junior Katrina Thoms. “After losing most of the players we’ve gotten used to playing with over the years, we just finally got it back and are clicking with the freshmen coming in.”
One of those freshmen, Thoms younger sister Natasha, found her way to the goal to put the Hornets ahead in the 10th minute Friday.
Playing beside each other is nothing new for the Thoms sisters as Natasha has always played up on Katrina’s teams.
“It’s really exciting,” Katrina said of being able to score back-to-back goals for the team with her sister. “We’ve done everything together in every sport we’ve done, so to have her out here and have her on the field with me is great.
“And her scoring before me, I’m still jealous about, but it’s OK because it got us on the board, and we’re going again to keep our seniors in for their last playoff season.”
The sibling competitiveness on the field helped fuel Gatesville’s second goal against the Mustangs.
“I needed one,” Katrina said, laughing. “No way she gets a goal and I don’t get one.”
The elder Thoms sister found her way down the middle of the field before a foul set her up for a penalty kick.
“I was happy that I got the foul in the box,” she noted. “(The goalie) just rolled me and I got up and I was ready to go again.”
Three of the Hornets’ four goals Friday came on penalty kicks.
“This is a great group that I’ve been privileged to work with,” head coach Scott Campbell said after the game, as he started to choke up. “It’s just a neat group, and to be around this group of seniors for two more days, at least, it’s going to be fun.”
The Hornets have an overall record of 13-5-2 and finished District 17-4A play with a record of 8-4.
Gatesville (13-5-2) faces No. 17 Henderson (22-5-2) in the area round tonight at 6 in Corsicana. The Lions went undefeated in District 19-4A.
“We’re still here,” said Natasha. “We’re living again.
“It feels good.”
TODAY'S GIRLS PLAYOFF MATCHES
- 6 p.m. — Gatesville vs. No. 17 Henderson, at Corsicana HS
- 6:30 p.m. — Belton vs. Wylie, at Alvarado