WICHITA FALLS — Trophy Club Nelson had an easy run through the girls soccer playoffs entering Friday’s Class 4A Region I tournament, outscoring their opponents 20-1.
That changed when the Bobcats suffered through some anxious moments against Amarillo but held on to win Friday’s regional semifinal 2-1 at Memorial Stadium.
Nelson needed a clutch penalty-kick save by Bonnie Ruten in the 73rd minute to earn a spot in Saturday’s regional final. Nelson (27-2-1) will face Friday’s Denton Guyer-Canyon Randall winner at 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Nelson took a 2-0 lead in the first half on goals by Madison Hall and Lynnsey Brim. Despite a 12-2 edge in shots, thoughts of overtime were taking over before Ruten’s big save.
Amarillo (14-9-2) cut the lead to 2-1 in the 58th minute on a goal from Jordan Duke and then had a golden chance to even the match when Nelson’s Allie Rivers was called for a handball with seven minutes left.
Ruten, a 5-foot-7 sophomore, moved to her right and stuffed Riley McGill’s penalty kick, and Amarillo didn’t really threaten again. Ruten had not faced a PK all season, at least not in practice.
“That was unbelievable,” Hall said of her teammate’s save. “It was kind of scary.”
“We were starting to get heavy-legged and the momentum shifted,” Nelson coach Phillip Salyer said. “Then we get the PK and I’m thinking we’re going to overtime. But our keeper did a great job.”
Nelson’s Hall broke the ice in the 30th minute on an assist from Alexa Baine.
“When I first hit it I didn’t think it went in,” Hall said. “I heard the post and thought, dang it, and when I saw it go in I thought: ‘Yes, we took the lead.’
“We didn’t want to come out underestimating them. We figured we’d come out strong and score in the first half and coast in the second half.”
Their coach tried to warn them at halftime.
“They only had three shots, but I told them 2-0 is not a safe lead,” Salyer said. “Amarillo is well coached and has a lot of heart.”
Brim scored from 21 yards in the 35th minute on Baine’s second assist of the match. In the second half, Brim suffered an ankle injury and had to be helped off the field. Her availability today is uncertain.
“It’s happened before and we’ve played without her before,” Hall said. “It’s tough moving our lineup around but we can handle it. We have the talent everywhere and we can handle it.”
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