Hosting a playoff game for the first time in program history was a task the Odessa High girls soccer team took seriously.
The Lady Bronchos wanted to make sure they made their hometown fans happy. They did just that with never losing control of the game.
Odessa High downed El Paso Coronado 3-0 Thursday afternoon in a Class 6A bi-district matchup at Ratliff Stadium.
The Lady Bronchos advance to face Keller Central in the area round early next week. Details of that game have yet to be announced. The Lady Chargers defeated Arlington Lamar 6-1 Thursday night.
The win gave Odessa High its fifth playoff victory in the last six seasons.
“I’m very proud of the team. I thought that they played a solid, consistent 80 minutes,” Odessa High head coach Cecilia Kellar said. “I thought it took us a little while to get going at the beginning to really kind of find our rhythm. I think after we did, I think that you saw us really find that consistency and take control of the game.”
Despite practicing at Ratliff Stadium multiple times in the week leading up to the game, the Lady Bronchos needed the contest’s first 20 minutes to find a slew of scoring opportunities on a turf they were comfortable with.
After that Odessa High (17-7-0) started to surround Thunderbirds’ goalkeeper Hannah Ochoa with the ball at its feet.
That persistence finally paid off with 12 minutes left in the first half when Miranda Cardona passed the ball to Malarie Ramirez, who ripped a shot from just outside the penalty box that went under the crossbar and just over Ochoa’s hands.
“(Cardona) played a great ball and I didn’t think about shooting, it was just reaction,” Ramirez said. “I knew it was a quality hit … when I shot I didn’t think it was going to go in, I wasn’t really thinking about that, but I was just watching it. It floated over her and I was really happy.”
The Lady Bronchos doubled their lead seven minutes later when Cardona took a shot of her own from outside the penalty box, which rocketed into the bottom-left corner of the net, past Ochoa’s dive.
“I think that was big because in the second half we had to come out strong and hard because they’re going to come out harder,” Cardona said about scoring her goal against the Thunderbirds.
“The first goal kind of broke it up a little bit and the second goal really kind of let us take that control and be a little more patient, a little more calm about the way we’re playing,” Kellar added.
El Paso Coronado (18-5-0) put a little more pressure on Odessa High’s defense in the second half, but never posed a huge threat to the Lady Bronchos’ backline.
Odessa High capped off the game with a goal from Yareli Barrera with six seconds left on the clock.
“We know that we weren’t going to be the underdogs this game and we knew that we had to put it away because we’re playing in front of our community,” Ramirez said.
Odessa High again will have an opportunity to make history in the area round. In the Lady Bronchos’ previous four tries, they haven’t advanced to the regional quarterfinals.
“We understand that if we win that game, that we get to bring back to our school something that we haven’t in our program yet,” Kellar said. “So it’s definitely something that we want to do.”
Kellar said that Coronado brought an aggressive game to Ratliff and that is something her team can build on as the opponents will only get tougher from here on out. She added that the Lady Bronchos will also sharpen up their skills before their next game with hopes of increasing productivity at both ends of the field.
“Those opportunities are going to dwindle the further that we go,” Kellar said. “And so, it’s really dependent on how we take advantage of those opportunities that will determine how far we go.”