Lady Lions target third round, repeat of last year’s playoff performance against Borger

Derrick Stuckly / Brownwood Bulletin
Maddy Garza (16) will attempt to oust Borger from the postseason for the second year in a row and advance to the regional quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday in Wichita Falls.

A year ago, the Brownwood Lady Lions shook off the struggles from their district campaign en route to an appearance in the third round of the playoffs.

The Lady Lions are attempting to follow in the footsteps of the 2015 campaign as District 4-4A fourth seed Brownwood faces District 1-4A third seed Borger at 7 p.m. Friday at Wichita Falls Memorial Stadium in Region I-4A area playoff action.

At stake is a berth in the third round of the playoffs — the regional quarterfinals — against either 4-4A rival Stephenville or Pampa.

The Lady Lions (10-9-1), who posted a 0-6 mark against district foes, advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 3-1 bi-district victory over District 3-4A champion Wichita Falls Hirschi on March 24.

“We’ve had a good week of practice and our spirits are up,” said Lady Lions head coach Keith Robinson. “One of the things the girls have realized is even though we gave up bad results in district and our record isn’t what it could be, we’re still are good team.”

Playing stellar district opponents in Abilene Wylie, Stephenville and Mineral Wells have only helped the Lady Lions improve, despite the frustrating losses.

“We’re in probably one of the toughest, if not the toughest district in the region,” Robinson said. “Every other district probably has one solid, regional tournament type team but ours is pretty loaded. Last year all four teams made it back to play each other to get into the regional tournament. The teams are tough, physical, gifted, and their soccer knowledge is way up there.

“From last year to this year they understand where we are as far as the ‘state rankings’ are concerned. We know where we sit. We’re just below the upper echelon of the top four teams in the region and above everybody else.”

The Lady Lions eliminated Borger, 4-1, in the second round of the playoffs a year ago. And like last season, Robinson isn’t sure what to expect from the Lady Bulldogs heading into the contest.

“I really don’t know much about them other than how they finished in district, which was third behind San Elizario and Pampa,” Robinson said. “I haven’t seen them but I know they lost to Wylie, 6-0. Every year is different so they could be very similar to last year’s team or very different. And that could be good or bad, depending on the kids that came in.”

As for the Lady Lions, Robinson feels confident offensively heading into Friday’s encounter.

“I’m not a fortune teller and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but based on what I’ve seen and on our potential, I believe we’ll put up some points,” Robinson said. “Our offense is something we’ve always been pretty high on this year. The confidence that Tristan (Escamilla), Jaycee (Lenz) and some of the other ones have going forward, and their ability to put pressure on with their speed and skills, is a big strength for us.”

Brownwood yielded only one goal in the first round, but continued stellar play on the defensive end will be vital again against Borger.

“One of the things we’ve struggled with, especially in district, is giving up goals. We played some very good teams but there were times where, as a back line as a whole, we sat back and let opposing front runners dictate play a little more instead of us stepping in and being more hard-nosed. If we will make that next step as a unit in the back, we could be a very, very dangerous team. But it’s going to take a little maturity and a little sacrifice on the part of the defensive players to take that next step.

“We just have to make sure when we step on that field we have the right mentality. If it’s there, we’ll be good.”