Tues., Mar. 27th, 2007 Summit edges Lady Rebels
ABILENE -- Nothing was going Mansfield Summit's way for 50 minutes. The Lee girls had been dominating the Lady Jaguars and Summit's senior captain had broken her leg. But one unlucky cross bounced Lee from the playoffs in the bi-district round for the second consecutive year.
The Lady Rebels (10-8-1) played their best match of the season, just as coach Amanda Melchor said they would have to, but it still was not enough as Summit (21-2) pulled out the 1-0 win on Monday at Shotwell Stadium. The teams played most of the first-half action on Summit's side of the pitch, getting off several shots, but just two of them challenged the goalkeeper. And it was a lot of the same in the second half. "We put them on the heels to begin the game because we're better than them. I'm serious," Melchor said. "Any of our players matched up well in the back. And they matched up well in the front."
But six minutes into the second half, the Lady Jags found the motivation they needed. After goalkeeper Katie Stewart broke up Summit midfielder Megan Hudson's drive, a nasty collision with Lee junior defender Kristen Herrera broke Hudson's tibia and fibula.
"I went out and slid. The ball popped out and they said she broke her leg," the freshman goalkeeper said. "I was kind of upset about it because the game became more personal after that, because it became more about that rather than winning. They thought I injured her on purpose."
So Summit decided to start concentrating and four minutes later, it scored the one goal it would need to win at Shotwell for the first time since 2003. Stefani Campbell aimed for Marissa Reidel in front of the Lee goal and crossed in the ball from the left side. Reidel missed it, but it grazed off her back in mid-trajectory. Stewart was backing up to make the save and went for it with her far right hand when she said she should have gone for it with her near hand. Summit's lone shot on goal of the second half went right between her hands and the Lady Jags could shut it down and play defense. "It was a great cross with just a little bit of luck," Reidel said.
Lee worked for several quality scoring opportunities in the final 30 minutes but simply could not put a solid shot on goal.
"We did really dominate. We had possession, we just didn't get many on goal," junior forward Whitney Smith said. "You can't miss in this game." Early in the match, Smith had a free kick opportunity from 25 yards out that sailed about a foot high of the crossbar.
It was a bitter end to an exceptionally well-played match on Lee's part, but very few Lady Rebels shed a tear. They were very proud of how they came together at the end of a frustrating season to make the playoffs and set the foundation for next year.
"We finished district as good as we could have considering the rebuilding," Melchor said. "It says something about the future of our program because if this is what our young 6-6 (in district) girls play like in the playoffs, that's exciting for the program next year."
But one Lady Rebel could not keep her eyes dry.
Senior captain Kelsey Byars had helped lead and mentor her young teammates as they willed themselves into the playoffs and nearly into the area round. "We just worked our butts off. This is the hardest we worked all season. They (Summit) just had one chance," the senior said with red eyes and a lingering quiver of passion still drawing her back on the pitch. "We really worked as a team. This is the best team. I've never been on a team that had more chemistry."