To have the kind of run the Martin girls soccer team is on, it takes the kind of offense Melissa Fulfer can provide in a key moment and the kind of defense Logan Phillips can provide through an entire match.
Through its first four District 4-6A games, the Lady Warriors are 4-0 with home wins against Lamar, Sam Houston and Weatherford and a road triumph at Bowie. Entering the third week of district, Martin has let in no goals while scoring 17.
The only one of those four games in which Martin hasn’t scored at least four goals was a 2-0 victory last Tuesday against the Lady Roos. The game was played in cold temperatures and strong wind. The conditions stifled Martin’s offensive attack.
“The ball just kind of floated,” Fulfer said of the kicks into the stiff breeze.
But Fulfer’s ball did not float on a first-half goal that provided Martin with a 1-0 lead against Weatherford. The play began with a free kick. She passed the free kick off short to a teammate, received a pass back and nailed a 30-yard shot.
“We worked on those,” Fulfer said. “We work on set plays a lot.”
At the onset of the play, coach Ruth Knight was skeptical of whether the shot might go in.
“Wasn’t that fantastic?” Knight said. “I was yelling over here on the sidelines, ‘That was such a mistake.’ … I didn’t like the pass because it didn’t really put her in good position.”
Fulfer, who has two goals in district play, placed the kick in the center of the goal above the hands of the Weatherford goalkeeper. “But it was an awesome shot,” Knight said. “When it went in, I was like, ‘But it worked.’”
Martin’s offense is working well, but just as vital to the Lady Warriors’ success is a defense that has not given up more than two goals in any game this season. The steady play of Phillips, the only four-year letterman in Knight’s program, at sweeper has allowed the other defenders to play up at times. Phillips, who was all District 3-5A last season, is one of 10 seniors on the squad.
“I think we’re really strong,” Phillips said of the defense. “We connect well.”
For all the veteran experience, Martin is in part a young team. The Lady Warriors have 13 sophomores. Despite the youth, the Lady Warriors have talent in the starting lineup and off the bench at every position, Phillips said.
“If one strong player needs to come off, we can get another strong player automatically,” Phillips said.
Knight agrees about Martin’s talent and depth. But she’s not completely pleased with the results from the Lady Warriors’ tournaments prior to the start of district play. Martin had three losses and two ties.
“I love them, but they can frustrate me because they’re not playing to their potential as much as I think they’d be able to,” Knight said. “I think we should be 9-0, honestly, with the talent that we have. But you know, it takes some time to get the chemistry going and the timing. I hope they will put it all together by the very end and us really be clicking on all cylinders.”
Given how well Martin is playing, Knight may not have many more chances at frustration. “Yeah, we’re going to have a lot of fun,” Phillips said.