MANOR — Whether it was a misplayed ball, a failed set-piece conversion or a pass that sailed out of bounds, the breaks were not there for the Salado Lady Eagles on Friday night. Salado failed to get any production from its offensive attack and was shut out in a 1-0 loss to the Wimberley Lady Texans in a Class 4A Region IV quarterfinal at Manor ISD Athletic Complex.
Wimberley advances to the regional semifinals for the second time in three years and will face Pleasanton next Friday in McAllen.
Wimberley (23-3-2) struck for the lone goal of the contest in the 14th minute as Sunny Jones broke past Salado’s back line and beat the Lady Eagles’ keeper Avery Wright for a chip shot right in front of the box. The Lady Texans relied on their defensive pressure and held Salado (20-7-1) to three shots on goal.
“You can’t fault our girls, they played really well tonight, but Wimberley played just a little bit better,” Salado head coach Michael Goos said. “We wanted to put (Wimberley) under a lot of pressure, but they just came up during those critical moments and made big plays.”
Salado — playing in the third-round of the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years — registered six corner kicks against Wimberley’s two, but failed to push across the equalizer. The Lady Eagles had back-to-back corners in the 54th minute that didn’t fool the Lady Texans.
“I think we’ll look back on the film and be disappointed because a couple of those corners came really close to going in,” Goos said. “If we would have done just a little bit more, we probably put that ball in the back of the net.”
Coming into the contest, Wimberley head coach Brinton Nute realized his squad would have a difficult time matching up physically with Salado. His solution was to drop back an extra defender.
It worked perfectly.
“We played five in the back because we knew (Salado) would come out physically strong,” Nute said. “We take pride on clean sheets just as much as we do scoring goals. Our forwards drop back to defend and our midfielders get back to challenge. The back five and Casey (Crawford) in goal tonight were fantastic.”
Salado attacked in the game’s opening minutes, but the advantage quickly turned to Wimberley as the Lady Texans forced the Lady Eagles to defend. Wimberley’s corner kick in the 20th minute was corralled and hit off the post and Grace Graham’s header fell in front of Crawford in the 30th minute to spoil a Salado scoring opportunity.
The Lady Eagles started the second half with a corner kick which was long. Wimberley was called for a push in the back, giving Salado a free kick from 30 yards out which failed to reach the back netting in the 62nd minute.
“I really wanted us to get a second goal,” Nute said. “Credit to Salado, they really put us on the back foot in the first 10 minutes of the second half. We knew our defense would have to play strong and they did.”