WACO — The anticipation is over, and Salado is capitalizing on the long-awaited opportunity.

Last year, the Eagles’ hopes of making a deep playoff run were erased as the coronavirus pandemic caused the University Interscholastic League to cancel the remainder of the season before the district schedule concluded.

Although the campaign ended in disappointment, the experience bred motivation.

One year later, Salado was finally afforded the chance to embark on a championship chase, and its Class 4A bi-district opponent could not contain the Eagles’ offense.

Salado scored a pair of first-half goals, including one with less than a minute remaining on the clock, and the performance propelled them to a 4-1 victory against Mexia. 

Entering the evening, the Eagles have been virtually untouchable.

The victory extends Salado’s win streak to 15 consecutive contests after sweeping the competition en route to an undefeated District 18-4A title. The Eagles (19-2-1) have not lost a match since falling 3-1 to Manor in a tournament on Jan. 9, and their only other loss came in the season opener against Liberty Hill.

Along the way, Salado has outscored the opposition by a lopsided 84-11 margin, and the Blackcats suffered a similar fate.

Although it took a little more than 30 minutes to find the back of the net, the Eagles quickly rediscovered their rhythm.

In the 31st minute, Salado junior Max Markham tallied the contest’s initial goal, slipping a short shot past Mexia goalkeeper Eduardo Salas after breaking away down the right sideline. The Eagles added to their advantage in the waning moments of the half as Juaquin Tobias scored on an empty net from 12 yards out

with 54 seconds remaining after the Blackcats goalkeeper advanced to defend on the play.

The outburst continued following intermission.

Salado recorded its third goal in a 14-minute span when Jackson Husung’s header redirected a corner kick into the back of the net in the 44th minute.

Mexia finally cut into the deficit late in match, scoring a goal on a penalty kick with 3 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in regulation, and while it ruined the Eagles’ shutout, it was not enough to create a comeback as Salado senior Ryan Havelka responded with a goal of his own just 88 seconds later.

With the win, Salado advances to face either La Grange or Bellville in the area round next week.

FRIDAY'S PLAYOFF SCORES

GIRLS

Class 6A bi-district playoffs

  • Belton 1, Duncanville 0

Class 4A bi-district playoffs

  • Lake Belton 3, China Spring 0
  • Salado 2, Mexia 0

BOYS

Class 4A bi-district playoffs

  • Salado 4, Mexia 1
  • Robinson 6, Lampasas 5, SO

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