MINERAL WELLS— The Brownwood Lady Lions soccer team advanced to the second round of the UIL soccer playoffs behind their third consecutive victory, shutting out Wichita Hirschi 5-0 in Region I-4A bi-district action Thursday night.
Persistence paid off for the Lady Lions (14-6), who picked up their first two goals after junior forward Maddy Garza put in two shots within four minutes of each other and both came off ricochets from shots by sophomore forward Aleyia Cotton.
“Most of my plays come from [Cotton],” Garza said. “She likes to dribble the ball down the sideline and I always have to be in the middle for her to send the ball into the goal. We have a good connection up top.”
Brownwood kept the ball in Hirschi territory for most of the night, with its back line routinely cutting off the Lady Huskies before they reached midfield. Garza said the Lady Lions’ success came from teammates picking each other up after a letdown.
“We have a strong back line and not much can get past them if we let them play their game,” Garza said. “… As a team, we’re so close. When one of us is down, we have to liven them up. Our back line was down for a little bit in the first half so our offense had to step it up. Our offense was down in the second half a little bit so our defense had to step it up.”
After going into halftime up 2-0, Brownwood dramatically shifted the momentum after Cotton drove the ball up the middle of the field and netted a close-range shot. Considering her first shots came to no avail, Cotton said she was relieved when she finally put one in.
“It was a relief. When I got the ball, it was on great passes, and I was able to put it in,” Cotton said.
Just under five minutes, later Cotton put one in from 11 yards out and freshman center Dusty VanHuss gave Brownwood an insurmountable 5-0 lead minutes later with a close-range shot of her own.
“Everyone just started to relax and play their game,” Cotton said. “We started moving the ball more, stopped panicking and did what we had to do.”
The Lady Lions will next face Borger, 6 p.m. Tuesday at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland.
“[Borger] are competitors that are going to get after it,” Brownwood head coach Brent Hardwick said. “They are not going to rollover for us. This is the postseason and everyone is going to give it everything they’ve got. This is the postseason and you have to fight for every inch you get.”