Athletics can be cruel.
A team can dominate in all facets of a game by doing everything right. Yet the scoreboard doesn’t reflect it. Keller’s girls soccer team couldn’t have asked for a better game plan against Pflugerville Hendrickson in the Class 6A state semifinals last Friday in Georgetown.
The Lady Indians outshot, outplayed, created numerous scoring chances and limited the number of chances by Hendrickson. But after 98 minutes, there was a scoreless tie.
Then Hendrickson found the game-winner on a header from a corner kick that beat the Lady Indians keeper in the second overtime. That was it. Keller’s season was over in 1-0 loss. Keller’s historic season concluded at 22-3-2.
I told them it didn’t matter what the outcome of the [Hendrickson game] was going to be. It wasn’t going to change the way I feel about them. The biggest disappointment was it didn’t go our way. It takes some luck to win a state championship.
- Keller girls soccer coach Billy Griffiths
“We definitely played well enough to win the game,” Keller coach Billy Griffiths said. “Their keeper played well in the back. When you get as many opportunities as we did and don’t score, it’s the worry that it’s going to get you later on.”
Keller had three times as many shots as Hendrickson did, 20-6. The Lady Indians also had a goal disallowed in the first half as they were called for interference with the keeper. All of those little things added up.
If there was any consolation, Hendrickson wound up winning the state title as it defeated Katy Tompkins, 2-0.
The mission of getting to the state tournament became the chatter in the middle of the District 3-6A season. Players were no longer going to be satisfied advancing a couple of rounds in the postseason.
“I told them it didn’t matter what the outcome of the [Hendrickson game] was going to be,” Griffiths said. “It wasn’t going to change the way I feel about them. The biggest disappointment was it didn’t go our way. It takes some luck to win a state championship. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out.”
What this edition of the Lady Indians did establish was that the standards are now changed. While this program has advanced to the playoffs in 10 of the previous 12 seasons, it is no longer good enough to win a playoff game or advance to the regional tournament. It’s going to be about advancing to Georgetown.
The 2017 roster loses 13 seniors. But the 2018 team has the makings of a pretty strong defensive group, led by keeper Mason Rodusky and sophomore keeper Cambree Towle. The back four defenders are also returning, led by junior Maddie Ellis and Julia Groff. Junior forward/midfielder Karlie Johnson and junior midfielder/defender Samantha Dominguez will offer versatility.
The program also waits on what the reinforcements offer. The freshman team finished undefeated. The junior varsity lost only twice.
However, the one concern is to what extent the Development Academy can impact Griffiths’ program. It is considered the highest level of amateur play in the United States Soccer Federation. The year-round sport is likely going to force players to either play for these teams or their high school teams. The chances of doing both appear remote. Of course, every team in Texas is impacted by this.
“It’s really nothing we can control but just hope we can deal with whatever happens,” Griffiths said. “We have a lot of kids coming through the program that want to be Keller Indians. It took us some time to make this happen. But we feel like we have a good thing building.”