SALADO — The Lady Eagles are one step closer to repeating as champions of the Salado Eagle Classic with a 2-0 win over Bay City on Thursday.
Grace Graham’s goal off a penalty kick in the 59th minute sealed Salado’s victory.
“We’ve been working all season for moments like this where we’re right at the end,” Graham said. “We have an amazing team this year where we were able to keep pushing and fighting and finally complete that.”
The host team closed out the first day of Group 1 play in the eighth annual tournament in the win column, putting them in second behind Pleasanton which took a 3-0 win over Taylor in the morning.
Wimberley finished as the Group 2 leader with a 9-0 win over IDEA-Montopolis College Preparatory. Leander Glenn is second in the group with a 3-0 victory over Burnet.
Salado is the only area team competing. Last year, Class 6A Copperas Cove participated and took the consolation prize.
“It’s a smaller tournament this year,” Salado head coach Michael Goos said, “but the teams we have here are stronger Class 4A programs than we’ve had in the past.
“Bay City was in the regional tournament last year in Region III, Pleasanton was in their regional tournament last year, and Wimberley was in their regional tournament, so we may have smaller schools, but we have stronger teams here.”
The Lady Eagles controlled the ball for 21 minutes in the first half and were able to keep the Lady Blackcats off the scoreboard.
Hannah Reavis opened the match with two outside kicks that were stopped by Bay City goalkeeper Ramira Castellano.
Salado continued to fight its way down the field before Holly Wright was trapped by two Lady Blackcats just past midfield. Wright broke out of the trap but couldn’t get within range of the goal.
With no score at halftime, Salado
was determined to get a goal.
“The entire game we were just almost there, almost there,” Reavis said. “Before the game, we kept saying, ‘We got to keep going, we got to be confident and never stop.’
“And that’s exactly what we did.”
Late in the second half, Madison Spradlin gained control of the ball at midfield and passed to Reavis.
“She knows me really well,” Reavis said. “She sends that ball over, and I just gun it.”
Reavis took off down the right side of the field and went for an outside shot that soared into the left corner of the net to put Salado ahead 1-0 in the 54th minute.
“Their keeper did a great job,” Goos said, “but we finally found that one.
“We had so many chances that we kind of squandered, and we finally just took advantage of one and stuck it to the back of the net.”
The Lady Eagles were given another opportunity when a penalty was called on Bay City in the 58th minute.
Graham took the kick for Salado and scored on a shot just out of Castellano’s reach and into the top right corner of the goal to secure the win.
“They’re excited right now,” Goos said. “We just hope they can maintain that and calm down before we play tomorrow, but it’s exciting the way they played tonight.
“We pressed all night long, we finally had the opportunity, and we finally stuck one in, and the other one came a little bit easier, so it’s a great way for the girls to start the tournament.”
The Lady Eagles resume play against Pleasanton today at 1 p.m.
“We just have to beat them and beat everyone else,” Reavis said, “and, hopefully, be back in the position we were in last year.”