GATESVILLE — It was not a victory, but it was a success.
With three games remaining in the regular season, Gatesville is entrenched in a battle for a playoff spot, entering the evening as one of four teams fighting for District 17-4A’s final three berths.
The third-place Hornets were unable to take another step toward the postseason, though.
China Spring halted a Gatesville comeback attempt with a goal in the 57th minute, and the Hornets never recovered, losing 2-1.
Despite the outcome, however, the contest was beneficial, according to Gatesville midfielder Savannah Webb.
“We fought really well as a team,” she said, “and we worked really well together.
“We were able to work on some things we needed to and fought really hard. Even though we lost, it was kind of a win for us, because we took another step in the process.”
Hornets head coach Scott Campbell agreed.
“One of the things I like about this group is they keep at it,” he said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but I like the progress we are making, and I think it will serve us well in the playoffs.”
Gatesville must qualify first, though, after allowing an opportunity to improve their standing escape.
With four teams separated by a mere three points, Gatesville (10-5-2, 5-4-1) was in control early, winning the battle for field position through the first 20 minutes despite giving up a few unsuccessful shots.
Then, the Lady Cougars (7-3) captured the momentum.
China Spring created multiple scoring opportunities throughout the duration of the half, and with intermission approaching, the Lady Cougars connected.
Junior striker Lindsey Schiller delivered a shot from the right side that ricocheted off a Gatesville player before bouncing off goalkeeper Stefany Ortiz’s hands and into the net with 2 minutes, 32 seconds remaining until halftime.
“We wanted to come back strong in the second half,” Webb said, “and we wanted to fight harder than we did in the first half.
“We did it for the first part, but we just got worn down toward the end of the half.”
In the 57th minute, Webb put the Hornets on the scoreboard, firing a rebound into the back of the net after the Lady Cougars goalkeeper deflected her first shot attempt.
But the tie did not last.
Schiller provided the go-ahead goal four minutes later, and the score held for the duration of the contest.
Now, the Hornets step away from the playoff race for spring break before returning March 19 against Waco Connally for their next-to-last game.
With so much still left to play for, Campbell has mixed emotions about the schedule.
“I’m a guy who likes processes,” Campbell said, “and I like normality, and this breaks that up.
“It is a long season, though, so it’s nice to have that break.
“The girls just need to get healthy, relax and enjoy their families, and then, come back ready for practice, because we know what we need to do to lock up our playoff spot.”