MIDLAND — For the fourth year in a row, the Brownwood Lady Lions have reached the regional quarterfinal round of the Class 4A girls soccer playoffs.
On Tuesday, the Lady Lions — winners of four straight games — collected a Region I-4A area championship by blanking Borger, 6-0. With the victory, the Lady Lions will meet up with District 4-4A rival Abilene Wylie Friday night at Showell Stadium in Abilene, tentatively scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start, with a trip to the regional tournament at stake. Brownwood (15-6) has never qualified for the regional tournament in the 12-year history of the program.
“If that doesn't solidify you as a program I don't know what does,” Brownwood first-year head coach Brent Hardwick said of the Lady Lions' string of third-round appearances. “It's something to be very proud of. I know they're proud of it, but they want to continue and surpass people's expectations and do things that haven't been done before.”
In the Lady Lions' area round win over Borger, Aleyia Cotton scored the first of her three goals less than two minutes into the contest as Brownwood was in control from start to finish.
“Something I always tell the girls is to play that first five minutes with really high intensity, we're looking to get a goal in the first five minutes and we got our first one in the first two minutes, so they exceeded my expectations,” Hardwick said. “They did a good job of keeping up the intensity after that as well and not backing off the gas pedal.”
Along with Cotton's hat trick, Maddy Garza, Madison Chesser and Taylar Kinzler also found the net for Brownwood. Assists belonged to Miranda Guerrero, Chesser, Garza, Cotton and Kinzler — who finished with a pair.
“Aleyia had a hat trick and did a lot of Aleyia things,” Hardwick said. “She was firing on all cylinders but she wasn't being selfish at all. Maddy also played up top and got a goal for herself. Taylar, in the attacking midfield, was able to get one and it's good to see her back on the score sheet. Madison scored on a penalty kick late in the game, and she's always solid on those. She's 100 percent on penalties, calm, cool and collected and you know it's going in when she takes a penalty kick.”
In goal, Channing Barron recorded a shutout, collecting four saves in the process.
“Our defense has been doing this all year long,” Hardwick said. “It's almost expected of them so it's nothing new for them, it's something we rely on. They do a great job at communicating, working together and shutting down everybody that comes in their path. Borger didn't cross midfield too many times, so they did their part and did it really well.”
Wylie ousted Brownwood from the playoffs in 2015, while Stephenville booted the Lady Lions in 2016 and 2017. Wylie and Stephenville were district rivals with the Lady Lions in each of those seasons, and the Lady Bulldogs own three league wins over Brownwood this year.
“They're very focused, this is something they've been wanting,” Hardwick said. “Being that Wylie is the only team we didn't beat during district, we definitely want them again.”