BEDFORD — District 3-5A champions Arlington Martin survived a tough bi-district matchup against Keller Central on Thursday night at Pennington Field, getting a second-half goal from Lauren Prater to escape with a 1-0 victory.
“They have a tough district over there and they’ve beaten some really strong opponents,” Martin coach Ruth Knight said. “That was an incredible match. I enjoyed watching it and being a part of it, and I feel privileged to be on the winning end of it.”
Largely against the run of play, Prater was able to get Martin on the board in the 73rd minute. She collected a headed clearance in the middle of the field about 25 yards from the goal and chipped a ball that sneaked just inside the left upright.
“I just hit it hoping it was going to do something good for us and it ended up going in,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to shoot, but I was happy it went in.”
Martin (16-8-1) will next face the winner of Friday’s El Paso El Dorado vs. Odessa matchup.
Neither team could put together many quality chances in the first half. The best of them came just three minutes in, when Central’s Kristina Schulz delivered a corner that Tessa Woodcock sent smashing against the crossbar.
Abby Aldrich had a pair of opportunities for the Chargers (12-8-1) in the first half. She missed wide left in the eighth minute and then on a nice individual effort in the 34th minute, she received a pass, moved on one defender then spun and fired just over the goal.
Martin’s best chance of the half came in the 18th minute, when the duo of Natalie Newman and Prater combined on a few one-two passes before Central keeper Brianna Rupkalvis was forced to parry Newman’s shot.
Madison Melser also came close in the closing moments of the half when she whistled a free kick just wide left from about 25 yards out.
The second half was much of the same, and it was Aldrich again who almost broke the deadlock. During a scramble in the Martin area from a Schulz corner kick, Aldrich found the ball at her feet and hit an off-balance shot that ricocheted off the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Schulz delivered a cross from the right side that Hope Smith headed over from close range.
Martin proved dangerous on another set piece when Emily McLaren just missed the upper right corner on a free kick from about 20 yards in the 67th minute.
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