It’s hard to lose games when your opponent can’t score.
That’s why there’s still a zero in the loss column for Midway girls soccer team as it enters the area round of the 6A state playoffs. In 19 games this season, the Pantherettes have allowed just four goals.
To put that in perspective, that’s average an allowance of 0.2 goals per game.
“It’s a whole team effort,” Midway head coach Bill Sharp said. “I think our girls understand that when we have possession, we’re on the attack and when we don’t, we’re defending. It’s not just the backline, it’s all 11 players understanding that we’ve got to win the ball back together.”
The Pantherettes (15-0-4) picked up another clean sheet last week in their bidistrict 1-0 win over Tyler Lee to kick off postseason play, once again befuddling their opponents on the defensive end and only needing the lone goal from Emmalie Albers to secure the win and advance to the area round.
Now they get a chance at revenge when they face Lake Highlands, the team that ousted them in last year’s playoffs, in a rematch Friday in Mansfield.
Once again, Midway will turn to its defense, which features a backline consisting of three seniors and a junior, for another win.
“I think that our girls are learning, they’re playing real smart and they’re putting themselves in good positions,” Sharp said. “They know when to pressure the ball and when they’ve got to cover. They’re shape has been outstanding. That helps our goalkeeper out, because it makes it somewhat predictable for her, which puts her in a position to make a save if she needs to.”
Lake Highlands returns the majority of its lineup from last year’s team, which defeated the Pantherettes, 1-0, in the area round of the 2015 playoffs.
The winner advances to the regional quarterfinal against the winner of top-ranked Garland Sachse and Highland Park.
“It’s so hard (to win a state title) at the 6A level,” Sharp said. “Lake Highlands is good, but if we go out and stick to our gameplan and give ourselves some opportunities, we’ve got a chance to pull one out.”
After district titles, Waco High, Midway boys eye playoff runs
Claiming top spots in their respective districts was just the first step for the Waco High and Midway boys.
After knocking off their bidistrict opponents, both teams are into the area round looking to ride the momentum of the success they found at the tail end of the regular season.
Waco High (17-4) faces Waller in the 5A playoffs in Bryan, while Midway (12-4-7) travels to Ennis for match with Irving in the 6A bracket.
“We had a goal of winning district, and in order to do that they had to go undefeated during district play,” Panthers head coach Patrick Posey said. “We had some ties during district play, but we got points out of every game, so that helped us ultimately win the district championship.”
All of Midway’s losses came early in the season in tournaments, and its experience with tight games down the stretch came into play right away in the playoffs.
After a scoreless contest through regulation in last week’s bidistrict contest against Garland Rowlett, the Panthers didn’t even need a full round of penalty kicks to finish off the Eagles. They scored on their first three attempts, while Rowlett missed three of four tries.
“We went into the game knowing that in order to win, you obviously don’t want to concede a goal,” Posey said. “The goal into the game was limiting them and not let them score. And then the worse you can do is tie and go into overtime and possibly a shootout, which we were comfortable with. We had been practicing that very scenario in practices.”
Led by midfielders Ben Matthews and Michael Ramos, Midway can be the first team to beat Irving in more than a month with a win over the Tigers on Friday.
Waco High (17-4), a two-time defending district champ, is trying to get into the regional tournament for the first time since 2011. The Lions have a sizable fan base supporting their cause.
“We have a pretty strong relationship with alumni guys,” Waco High head coach Kris Kahler said. “Waco’s not the biggest city, but it’s a pretty strong community when it comes to soccer. Some stories have been told about what it’s like and going there and just the playoff run. The excitement kind of builds from game to game.”
The Lions edged Caney Creek, 2-1, in bistrict action, riding the momentum of a successful district run. Eric Quiroga notched the game-winning goal with 20 minutes remaining in regulation.
Jorge Cerillo leads the Waco High offense into area round, backed by a stout defense led by veterans Alexis Arranaga and Omar Williams.
“Lately, we’ve been playing decent soccer, but at times we’ve lost a few games because we didn’t execute on our end,” Kahler said. “With that being said, if we go into the game (Friday) and we play our game like we normally play for the most part of the year, I think we’re going to be fine.”
District 17-4A well represented in girls playoffs
The China Spring and Gatesville girls finished first and second, respectively, in District 17-4A. Now they’re demonstrating the strength of the district by each reaching the area round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
The two teams combined to beat their bidistrict opponents 8-1, including the Cougars’ 5-0 rout of Center last week.
China Spring faces Hamshire-Fannett on Friday night at Sam Houston State University, while Gatesville takes on ninth-ranked Hardin-Jefferson at Crockett.