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Sun., Feb. 12th, 2006 A Head Up:  MHS girls jump in front, then hold off Lady Rebel rally for win

Len Hayward
Sports Editor
Midland Reporter-Telegram

Midland High girls soccer coach Scott Hodkinson works to find a lesson in nearly every game -- whether it's a win or loss. Saturday afternoon against rival Lee, Hodkinson said the Lady Bulldogs learned a valuable one about two-goal leads. Midland High built a two-goal advantage against the Lady Rebels only to see that lead cut in half late in the second stanza.
But the Lady Bulldogs withstood the late rally to take a 2-1 District 3-5A victory against Lee at Grande Communications Stadium. "They made it very interesting," Hodkinson said. "We learned that two-goal leads can be dangerous. Because if the other team scores a goal they pick up some momentum." The Lady Bulldogs and Lady Rebels are tied for third in District 3-5A, each with identical 2-1 records and both teams will have little time to rest with games scheduled for Monday evening.
Saturday afternoon, though, Midland High dictated the game with its ball control and passing, forcing the Lady Rebels to play more defense than they anticipated. And it was Lady Bulldog forward Silver Ford that broke the ice in the game's 26th minute. Ford took a long, looping pass from Brandy Watts just inside the goal box and kicked it past Lee goalkeeper Kayla Weant, who came out to play the ball.
Ford was returning after missing two games because of a hip pointer and showed the type of speed that has given teams fits this season. Ford said fellow forward Liz Gates told her she had a chance at the ball when it was in the air. And the communication helped, as Ford found the back of the net.
"That was good communication from her on that play," Ford said. After the goal, Lee picked up the pace and at the end on the opening half, the Lady Rebels' Katie Hammitt just missed a goal on a free kick that would have tied the game. Liz Gates gave Midland High what looked like a comfortable lead in the game's 63rd minute, when she blasted a shot from about 30 yards out that went through Weant's hands. Michelle Ketter picked up the assist as the Lady Bulldogs were going into a stiff north wind. "I challenged them at halftime to get two more goals against the wind," Hodkinson said.
After that goal, though, the Lady Rebels began to put pressure on Midland High's back line. Nine minutes after Gates' goal, Lee's Tiffany Richter sizzled a shot past MHS' Lindsey Wilson to give the Lady Rebels some life. The pace quickened, but Lee could never create that chance for an equalizer.
"We didn't play very well at all," Lee coach Amanda Melchor said. "Mentally, they seemed ready to play but we didn't show it. We will rebound by winning (Monday's) game and it's just one loss. We'll get ready for the next game."