SALADO — Looking to make another deep run in the Class 4A playoffs, Salado took a 4-0 victory over in the bi-district round against Taylor on Friday night at home.
“It was actually really shocking how many people showed up,” Salado coach Allison Carnahan said of the crowd in attendance, “but it made us proud of our little Eagle home.
“Because we’re such a small town, the bleachers where filled, and it was really awesome.”
The Lady Eagles and the Lady Ducks were in the same spot last year, competing in the bi-district round of playoffs when Salado took a 5-0 win to advance to the area round.
In hopes of repeating the victory, Salado played a physical game from the very first whistle but Almost immediately, in the first minute of the game, the Eagles were called offsides as the Lady Ducks played a high defense.
The Lady Eagles attempted four shots on goal early in the first half before Madison Spradlin sent a ball soaring toward the net that made its way past the goalie for a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
“I felt good about it,” Spardlin said of her goal, “and I felt that once we got the lead we would keep it and follow through with this game and just keep working hard the whole game.”
Salado didn’t allow Taylor close enough to even try and score in the first half.
In the 17th minute, Hannah Reavis stole the ball from Erica Morales and raced up the field.
Reavis sent one toward the goal, but the ball bounced in front of Taylor goalkeeper Gabriela Guzman and over hear head, where Carnahan was waiting to send the ball to the back of the net.
“It was a great crossover,” Carnahan said of the play.
The Lady Eagles attempted to add another score on the board four more times but led 2-0 at halftime.
“I kind of thought we would put a couple more in,” Lady Eagles head coach Michael Goos said. “It’s nice to get that early lead and not sitting there tight late in the game.
“It was nice to get those two first goals and get the lead and let us kind of breath a little bit.”
Taylor’s defense kept Salado from pulling further ahead in the second half as it missed various open shots.
“They were very good defensively, they made sure we didn’t get a lot of easy shots so credit to them just for their work ethic in the back,” Goos said of Taylor. “I think that had a lot to do with us missing those shots.”
Although the Ducks kept the game within two goals, Salado answered back late in the second half with back-to-back goals.
The first shot came in the 73rd minute, when Madisyn Maddux ran up right and sent one rolling just out of reach to the left of the goalie to put the Eagles up 3-0.
Reeves quickly regained possession of the ball after the kickoff and dodged Taylor defenders Jazmine Franco and Joanna Lopez as she came up the middle and sent one into the top left corner of the goal for a 4-0 advantage in the 74th minute.
“They put a lot more pressure with that final shots,” Goos said. “I think that’s what made it a little more difficult to put a lot of those away, and I hope we do better against Fredericksburg.”
While the Lady Eagles are no strangers to advancing past the first round of playoffs, they know that the road ahead has tougher competition waiting for them.
Salado is taking each round of the playoffs one game at a time as Goos admitted he focused all his attention on getting past Taylor before doing any preparation for Fredericksburg.
“That’s what we got to do,” he said, “we just have to focus in on it, one at a time.”
While most of the girls on the team don’t have the postseason experience with the exception of the four seniors, they realize that they have to face each opponent as they come.
“Moving further into the competition, they get better and better,” Carnahan said, “so we’ll have to see what happens.”