East girls soccer pepper S.A. McCollum in win
March 28, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated March 27, 2013 at 10:28 p.m.
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SEGUIN - If Maggie Mata is hoarse this weekend, it's because she spent the whole game yelling at the top of her lungs.
"Keep shooting, Titans!" the mother of Victoria East winger Jahnae Mata implored the team Thursday night.
The Titans followed those instructions to perfection and eliminated San Antonio McCollum 2-1 in the Class 4A area playoffs.
East took 25 shots on the night. McCollum coach Stacey Molina said it took some spectacular saves from her sophomore goalkeeper Neyda Sanchez to keep the game that close.
"In the playoffs, it's never going to be an open shot," said sophomore defensive midfielder Morgan Wyatt. "You have to work it around, pass it around. It's definitely a team effort. It's not just one person taking shots."
Though the Titans controlled the game everywhere but the scoreboard for the first 10 minutes of the game, not scoring an early goal nearly bit them in the butt.
In the 12th minute, a simple back pass was misplayed by the Titans goalkeeper. The ball rolled into the net, and the Cowboys had a 1-0 lead, despite not putting a shot on goal.
"I've never played with a group of girls more positive, and our team is a unit," said East senior forward Cheyenne Repper.
Her point was proven Thursday.
Before East coach Misty Boenig could finish encouraging the Titans to keep their heads up, co-captain Rachel Mansker buried an opportunity from 15 yards away.
Madison Hawkins got behind the McCollum (9-11-7) defense, but her shot was blocked. A second Titans shot hit the goalpost. As McCollum tried to clear the ball, it fell to Mansker, and the junior midfielder emphatically tied the game.
The Mansker goal came just 47 seconds after McCollum's lone goal.
"We always talk about that," said East central defender Kendyl Charbula. "After the first goal is scored, the second is scored right after. We always try to keep our head up and come back at it."
Molina knew what Charbula knew - the Titans would strike back, and they would do so sooner than later.
"We scouted Victoria East," Molina said. "We knew what they are capable of. They are a good, strong team. We knew after the first goal they would come after us."
East continued the pressure until the game-winner arrived. It came via Hawkins in the 35th minute. The goal was Hawkins' fourth in two playoff games this season.
After the Hawkins goal, McCollum had more opportunities. But only two shots were on target, both of which were in the first half.
"I think they put forth that true Titan-style team effort," Boenig said. "Not only was our defense running and taking any clearances they were sending, but our offense was maintaining possession of the ball. That helped with us being able to settle the ball and concentrate on our passes and constantly keep pounding it (toward their goal.)
"I think our speed on defense and our ability to steal the ball on defense was able to hold them and let our offense connect on those two goals."
The Titans (19-5-1) will play Flour Bluff (18-6-3) in the Class 4A sectional round at a time and location to be determined. It will be a rematch of a Jan. 12 contest East won 3-1.
Wyatt said it would not be right to look too far into the early season game with Flour Bluff because both teams have improved since that contest. East will bring a six game win streak into the sectional round, and the Lady Hornets are undefeated in their last 16 games.
Thursday's win meant the Titans girls soccer program advances to the sectional playoffs for the first time in the three-year history of the school.
Wyatt's awe at the accomplishment summed up the mood surrounding the Titans camp. "I can't even explain it with words, honestly."