GATESVILLE — Molly Hogan knew it was not a must-win situation, but she refused to acknowledge it.

Entering Friday evening’s regular-season finale, Gatesville was still attempting to earn a playoff berth, and there were only two options remaining. The Hornets could rely on No. 15 Lorena defeating Waco La Vega, or they could simply beat Robinson.

Gatesville decided to rely on itself.

Following a scoreless first half, the Hornets exploded offensively, recording a quartet of goals in a 22-minute span, capturing District 17-4A’s third seed and the program’s fifth consecutive playoff appearance with a 4-1 victory.

Although the Lady Leopards accomplished the expected, easily defeating the Lady Pirates 7-0 en route to the district champion, Gatesville’s junior did not want to wait.

“It was so important for us earn the playoff spot on our own,” Hogan said. “Even though a team has beaten somebody before, you can’t just expect somebody to win.

“You never know when somebody is going to fight hard, so you always have to be ready to fight harder, and if you don’t, you’ll be upset.”

The Hornets had little to complain about in the second half.

After producing just three shots on goal through the first 40 minutes, Gatesville (11-5-2, 7-4-1) saw two quick shot attempts miss the target before the scoring surge began.

In the 45th minute, Kaity Ferguson opened the outburst with a free kick from the 30 yards out that sailed just under the crossbar. Then, nine minutes later, Ferguson sent a free kick into the goal box, where Hogan’s header redirected the ball into the back of the net.

“Most of our goals came off set plays,” Ferguson said. “We’ve been working on them all week — outside shots and finishing with our heads off corners.

“Basically, everything worked that we’ve been practicing.”

Robinson responded in the 57th minute, scoring on a penalty kick, but the Lady Rockets would not get any closer.

The Hornets scored twice in the next 11 minutes, beginning with Savannah Webb’s header off Ferguson’s corner kick, and they posted the match’s final goal in the 68th minute. After Robinson’s goalkeeper deflected Kamberly Vega’s shot, Bailee Armstrong one-touched the rebound into the goal for a 4-1 advantage.

“This performance takes a lot of pressure off,” Ferguson said. “This gives us a lot of hope for the playoffs, and we don’t have to play the first-place team (from District 18-4A).

“Now, we’re coming into the playoffs confident.”

Gatesville will open its postseason run next Friday in Mexia against Madisonville. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.

Regardless of what emerges, Hogan knows the Hornets will be prepared.

“It’s all about staying healthy, hydrating and practicing a lot,” she said. “We just have to get physically and mentally ready for that next game.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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