Central, Keller and Timber Creek each won their bi-district games and now will gear up for the second round this Friday.
On Thursday, it was Timber Creek that shut down Arlington 2-0 to advance to the Region I Area Round.
The Lady Falcons will take on Odessa Permian on Friday at 4:45 pm at Abilene’s Shotwell Stadium.
Timber Creek scored two goals in the first half against Arlington and played solid defense the rest of the way to secure the shutout.
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“I’m happy with the first half,” said Timber Creek head coach Mike King. “We really didn’t give them any good looks. The second half we created a few chances (to score) but we weren’t as sharp, but good enough to get the shutout,” he said.
The Lady Falcons, 16-8-1 overall, don’t have much to go on in terms of scouting Permian other than the Lady Panthers’ 16-2-2 record.
“That’s what I know about them,” King said early in the week. “They ran roughshod through district and we know they have a good forward and mid-center and don’t give up a lot of goals.”
King noted Permian scored four goals in its first round game.
Should Timber Creek get past Permian, they’ll have a match-up with the winner of Carroll and Odessa.
“There’s an advantage in playing someone you’re familiar with,” King said of a possible third game with Carroll, the state’s top-ranked team. Timber Creek had dropped a 1-0 decision to Carroll in their most recent contest with the Lady Dragons.
“When you get to the second round of the playoffs, from there on out it’s 5A soccer,” King said.
Keller breezed to a 6-0 win over Weatherford and will now play San Angelo Central at Shotwell Stadium at 2:45 pm on Friday.
Keller, 16-4-4, got on the board early and kept the pressure on Weatherford.
“After the first 10-15 minutes, we felt like we belong there,” said Keller head coach Billy Griffiths. “Obviously, once we got a couple of them (goals), we got more relaxed and the next ones came a little easier,” Griffiths said. “Our defense stepped up really well and we’ve played that way all season. We just have been able to continue what we’ve been doing the last eight games,” he said.
Keller was to be back into their same practice routine this week as they were last week and Griffiths said he hopes the Lady Indians yield the same result.
“Hopefully, we’ll do our research in the next few days,” Griffiths said of San Angelo Central. “Maybe it’s better not knowing so it will make us play a bit stronger.
“We’ve been pretty focused since we lost to Marcus last year (in the playoffs),” Griffiths said. “Our first thought after that loss was how to get back to the regional tournament,” he said.
With a win over San Angelo Central, Keller would be positioned to possibly take on another Central.
Keller Central will play Midland on Friday at Abilene’s Wylie High School, and the winner will meet Keller or San Angelo Central the following Monday or Tuesday.
Central, 14-8-1, rewrote the script from last year’s season by beating Arlington Martin, 3-1 in their bi-district game.
The sour taste in the Lady Chargers’ mouth kept the intensity high.
“We were in the right mindset from the start and the whole day,” said Central’s interim head coach Lauren Arias. “We were completely focused and we remembered last year that we didn’t make it out of the first round.”
Central garnered two early goals and dominated the first half against Martin. “It was a perfect first half for us,” Arias said, as she noted Central had the wind at their back and the early evening sun in the face of Martin.
The second half saw Martin come out enthused which forced Central to be defensive-minded.
“Once we got the third goal, it was the nail in the coffin,” Arias said.
“Since the Fossil Ridge loss, (a forfeited game due to an ineligible player), we’ve shown we can handle pressure,” Arias said. “I think having such a tough district was good for us. We definitely knew the pressure we were up against,” she said.
“It’s been so great to see these girls come together in what we’re calling our ‘comeback season’ and they know that by sticking together, nothing can stop them,” Arias said.