All four girls soccer playoff teams from District 4-5A were still alive heading into this week’s regional quarterfinals – the only district in the state with all its qualifiers intact.
Only two will advance to the regional semifinals, though, as Keller and Central will face each other while Timber Creek was taking on top-ranked Carroll. The games were part of a double-header at Northwest ISD Stadium on Tuesday evening, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Matchups were played after the press deadline; results can be found at www.dfwvarsity.com.
The local teams advanced from the area round games with Keller beating San Angelo Central, 3-0; Central getting past Midland, 4-3 and Timber Creek beating Odessa Permian, 2-0.
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Timber Creek may have the most formidable task in taking on Carroll, a team which had beaten the Lady Falcons twice in the regular season, 3-0 and 1-0.
The Lady Falcons, though, have shown they will stand up against any odds and have been on a streak of high-level play.
Timber Creek scored at the end of the first half against Midland and then put one through toward the end of the game.
“We had to be on the top of our game the entire 80 minutes,” said Timber Creek head coach Mike King.
Although some may have seen Timber Creek as a bit of a surprise to get past the area round, King said he only knows the expectations of his team.
“I don’t know what other people think,” he said. “As a team, we expect to be in this situation.”
King acknowledged the Lady Falcons would need to play a perfect game in order to beat Carroll, but also felt the team is capable of doing just that.
“We know what we have to do to beat them,” he said prior to the Carroll kickoff. “We have to play a perfect game. We came really close to doing that but you just can’t make mistakes against a team like that. We made three mistakes (in the first game) and they took advantage of that. They penalize you for making mistakes. We’re capable of (playing a perfect game) and showed we can. We’re motivated and know we can do it. These girls deserve it.”
The quick turnaround after Friday’s games was welcomed by King, who said that at this stage of the season, “the hay’s in the barn,” quoting a family saying. “We just want to play the games,” he said.
• Keller was able to get in sync early against San Angelo Central and the attacking pressure kept SA Central from initiating an attack.
The trip to play in Abilene last week may help the Lady Indians should they get past the locally-branded Central, as the regional semis and finals will be in Midland. “We’ve gone out of town the last three years and it’s helping us to go on the road like this year and last year going to Georgetown,” said Keller head coach Billy Griffiths.
Having to beat Central for a third time is a bit scary, said Griffiths, after the Lady Indians got past the Lady Chargers in both games during the season. “It’s a big worry, but hopefully we can block out the fact we beat them twice. But those two wins can give us confidence, too. It’s tough to beat a team three times but there’s something to be said for familiarity. They know us, too, but at least we know what we’re up against,” Griffiths said.
• Central has been in playoff mode for some time, though, if only mentally.
“We’ve played all season without a safety net,” said Central interim head coach Lauren Arias. “We’ve played all season like it’s our last game if we lose.”
The fact the Lady Chargers were the last team into the playoffs from the district is not a concern.
“We are a different team,” Arias said. “We haven’t put away those losses but we know we’re the underdog but we also know that we can play like we did the last game. We can come out fast and aggressive and have momentum and hopefully can continue that. We are not afraid and can play like we know how we can play. They are fast and aggressive and hopefully we can match that.”
Central demonstrated they can take charge of a contest and set the pace, as they did in their win over Midland.
Central raced out to a 4-1 lead at the half. They scored two goals right away as they did in their win over Arlington Martin and then hung on for the win.
The second half was a struggle for Central, but the Lady Chargers had enough cushion to make it last. Two injuries depleted the strength of the squad, but those girls will be ready for action on Tuesday, Arias said.