STEPHENVILLE — “I’m extremely proud and extremely blessed to be their head coach.”
Those were the words of Brownwood Lady Lions head coach Keith Robinson, whose team put forth perhaps its most spirited effort of the 2016 campaign despite Tuesday’s season-ending 3-0 loss to the District 4-4A rival Stephenville Honeybees in the Region I-4A girls soccer quarterfinals.
“This was our hardest fought game,” Robinson said. “It was aggressive, it was tense and they sacrificed every bit of what they had and put their hearts on the field tonight.”
Despite facing a flurry of offense from Stephenville — which defeated the Lady Lions (12-10-1) for the third time this season — Brownwood goal keeper Lizzie McCrane recorded 25 saves and kept her team within striking distance.
“The equivalent of what she did for us tonight was what Tim Howard did for the U.S. Men’s team,” Robinson said. “She had 25 saves and if not for her the game is probably 5-0 or 6-0 easily. She kept us in this game, and she was the backbone and heart of our defense.”
Brownwood’s offense, unfortunately, never established a rhythm. With no legitimate scoring opportunities in the first half, the Lady Lions’ best threat at lighting up the board came with 13:56 remaining when Taylar Kinzler’s kick from 35 yards out floated just over the cross bar.
“They did a good job of dropping Savannah Alford deep, and she’s a great playe,” Robinson said of Stephenville’s defensive philosophy. “Everything we played long she cleared it out.”
McCrane tallied five saves in the first 15 minutes as Stephenville opened with a barrage on shots on the offensive end. The Honeybees finally broke through with 24:58 left in the opening half as Bayleigh Chaviers scored the first of her two goals.
Chaviers added the second with 10:14 left before intermission, and McCrane went into the half with a dozen saves.
In the second half, McCrane recorded 13 more saves but Stephenville managed to sneak in an Erin Couch goal off a corner kick with 6:26 to go, which essentially ended any hopes for a Brownwood comeback.
Of the Lady Lions’ 10 losses on the season, seven came at the hands of their District 4-4A rivals. And all four members of the district advanced to the third round of the playoffs, with Abilene Wylie eliminating Mineral Wells Monday.
Stephenville and Wylie will move on to the Region I-4A tournament at Kennedale Friday.
As for the Lady Lions’ season as a whole, Robinson said. “We built a foundation. They realize now the standard we want to play at and the expectations going forward.”