By Evan Ren
Killeen Daily Herald
BRENHAM The Killeen area's postseason soccer torch is still being carried, but by one of its most unlikely sources.
Following a 2-1 loss by the Killeen boys to Brenham at Rankin Field on Tuesday, the Ellison girls, making their first playoff appearance in 14 years, advanced to the area round for the first time in school history with a 3-0 blanking of Montgomery.
With the win, Ellison (12-9-1) will face District 20-4A champion Nederland at A&M Consolidated in College Station on Tuesday. The Killeen boys finished the year at 14-11.
n No. 5 Brenham 2, Killeen 1 On paper it may have had the makings of a rout, but through the first 52 minutes of play, unheralded Killeen played fifth-ranked Brenham to a virtual standstill.
Brenham's Douglas Killebrew scored with an assist from Kyle Branham in the 53rd minute to break a 1-1 tie with what proved to be the match-winner.
With the victory, the Cubs (23-4-0), who are also ranked No. 2 in the greater Houston area, now advance to face New Caney (21-4) in the area round Monday at Tomball.
"I got what I wanted tonight," Killeen coach James Gay said. "We played the type of soccer that I knew we could play."
Much to the surprise of many in attendance, Killeen opened the scoring in the eighth minute when J.T. Jones found the net from just outside the goalie box with an assist from Marvin Bautista.
"We made a little mistake early and got caught in a 2-on-1," said Brenham coach Erik Lane of Jones' goal. "It was so close to the goal, there was nothing we could do."
The Roos' only lead was short-lived, however, ending nine minutes later when Brenham scored with a header off a corner kick from Taylor Gaskamp.
Limited to just six shots in the first half, Brenham outshot the Roos 15-6 overall.
One Killeen shot attempt, however, a blast from point-blank range by Jones in the 58th minute, nearly tied the game at 2. A diving save by Brenham goalkeeper Harrison Harl ended the threat, which was Killeen's last until a breakaway by Brian Wood was swept away in the 75th minute by Austin Rayzor.
From that moment on, Killeen failed to produce a single high-percentage chance.
"J.T. came off the field saying 'I'm so sorry coach,'" said Gay of Jones' lost opportunity. "He's a great kid, he just came up short that time."
Goalkeeper Robert Mueller finished with 12 saves for the Roos; Harl notched six saves in goal for the Cubs.
"The kids were definitely unafraid tonight," Gay said. "They were really motivated to play because a lot of people said they couldn't play with Brenham.
"They wanted to prove that they deserved to be in the playoffs and they did."
n Ellison 3, Montgomery 0 Outscored by a combined tally of 20-0 through three straight playoff losses (the last of which came in 1991), Ellison's first-ever postseason goal came in the sixth minute when Angie Belford found the corner of the net from 30 yards out.
The Lady Eagles made it 2-0 23 minutes later when Amber Marbury tapped in a loose ball in front of the net. Ellison was never seriously threatened after that.
"Our early aggression was a key," Ellison coach Bryan Charlton said. "Montgomery did a good job of stepping their game up toward the end, but our kids hung in their and kept fighting for it."
Outshooting Montgomery 11-7, the Lady Eagles put the game away in the 75th minute when Marbury collected her second goal of the night. But with Ellison posting a school-record 10th shutout on the year, it was hardly needed.
Goalkeeper Anna Garrick notched her seventh shutout, picking up seven saves in the process.
"Ellison was just a really good team," Montgomery coach Candice Collins said. "Their speed was the difference all night.
"They were quicker and beat us to the loose balls. That's all I can say."
Contact Evan Ren at firstname.lastname@example.org