TEMPLE — Maria Salinas contributed any way she could.
Even from the bench, she found ways to be productive. After recording a pair of goals within a 94-second span during the first half of Lampasas’ opening-round playoff match against Waco, the Lady Badgers junior found herself on the sideline when an errant ball worked its way under the stands at Temple’s Wildcat Stadium.
Almost instantly, Salinas left her seat and crawled on her hands and knees, temporarily disappearing under the concrete bleachers before emerging moments later with the ball in hand.
“(It was) an adventure,” Salinas said. “There was a lot of grass and a lot of dirt. I just went for it.”
She continued to produce for Lampasas after intermission as well, adding three more goals in the second half, as the Lady Badgers cruised past Waco 6-0 for a Region III-4A bi-district playoff victory Tuesday.
“As soon as I started making those goals, I was like, ‘Oh, I got this,’” Salinas said. “I felt amazing. I felt like I could take any of them and each time I shoot, I’m going to make it.”
Although Salinas stole the show on offense, Lampasas head coach Tracy Brantley was quick to criticize her team’s performance in the lopsided victory.
“It is a 6-0 win, and we advanced one step farther, but I had no doubt we weren’t going to win this game,” she said. “I just wish it had looked prettier. Some of those goals were amazing ... but their shots on goal and our mistakes in the back shouldn’t happen, especially since we were first in district and are in the playoffs. That stuff shouldn’t be happening.”
The Lady Badgers (17-8-2) have a short turnaround, receiving only one day off before returning to face Bryan Rudder in the area round Thursday at 8 p.m. at Robinson. The Lady Rangers defeated Palestine 4-0 Tuesday to advance.
By the time the match was over, Lampasas’ lone senior Jenna Jenkins had already turned her attention toward the next round.
“It feels really good because this is the second time we’ve won bi-district,” Jenkins said, “but we are just focusing on Thursday and trying to get the win again.”
Despite having only a brief period to prepare, Brantley feels her team will be ready for Rudder.
“It is just simple stuff (we need to correct) that I am sure they know,” she said. “They just need a little bit more practice.”
Lampasas looked like it was participating in a practice session against Waco, especially early. Less than 13 minutes into the match, sophomore Analise Watson put the Lady Badgers on the scoreboard, firing a shot from 25 yards out into the top left corner of the net.
Then Salinas took control. Sierra Rash delivered a pinpoint cross to set up Salinas, who scored her first goal on header with 23:17 remaining in the half. Moments later, Drew Dekort’s corner kick led to another header finding the back of the net for Salinas, and the Lady Badgers took a 3-0 lead into halftime.
“Maria had a big performance tonight,” Brantley said. “She has come so far since the beginning of last year and even this year. It has been amazing.”
Bailey Hilgenberg and Caitlyn Shaughnessy sandwiched a pair of assists to Salinas around her unassisted goal in the second half.
“Once we knew how they playing, and we knew their skills, we started going for it,” Salinas said. “I just kept following.”
Waco University boys 6, Lampasas 0 — At Temple, Lampasas’ season came to a close thanks in part to a relentless offensive attack by the Trojans.
University produced 23 shots on goal in the first half alone, giving Badgers goalkeeper Josh Barbero a serious workout in the box. The senior managed to collect 13 first-half saves, but it was not nearly enough.
Less than three minutes into the match, University struck to claim a 1-0 advantage. With 25:36 remaining in the first half, Jose Santos Chavez doubled the Trojans’ cushion before Jon Lozano scored consecutive goals to give University a 4-0 lead it would take into halftime.
The Badgers limited University’s scoring opportunities in the second half, but after denying the Trojans for more than 21 minutes, they added to their total, posting a pair of goals within seven minutes of each other to create the final score.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org