The Odessa High girls soccer team has a chance at history.
The Lady Bronchos take on Keller Central in a Class 6A area-round playoff matchup at 5 p.m. today at Abilene’s Shotwell Stadium.
A victory would give the Lady Bronchos their first second-round playoff win in program history.
Although setting that benchmark is important to the team, it hasn’t been the Lady Bronchos’ only goal of the season.
They’ve already accomplished a few goals, including winning their bi-district playoff game — a 3-0 win over El Paso Coronado last Thursday.
With its season on the line this afternoon, Odessa High hopes this is the next step to reach loftier goals.
“I feel pretty confident in the girls and their performances and demeanor and work ethic from day to day,” Odessa High head coach Cecilia Kellar said. “Seeing the energy that they continue to bring, you get the feeling that they’re ready to compete.”
This is the same round, and venue, where Odessa High’s season ended a year ago, when the Lady Bronchos fell 4-1 to Mansfield.
Kellar mentioned that the Lady Bronchos have been working to right the wrongs from last year’s playoff exit.
The Lady Bronchos allowed two goals to the Lady Tigers in the first 11 minutes of that game and couldn’t dig themselves out of that hole despite any changes they made.
Plenty of players remain from that team and are determined to reach the program’s first regional quarterfinal.
A win over Keller Central would be Odessa High’s first playoff victory over a Metroplex team since its playoff debut in 2012 when it beat North Crowley.
The Lady Chargers, the District 3-6A champions, defeated Arlington Lamar 6-1 in the bi-district round.
“This group really has a drive to get through this area round,” Kellar said. “They understand the expectations and they understand what they need to do to be successful in this round and moving forward. They definitely are willing to put in the work.”
In January, Odessa High (17-7-0) competed in the National Elite Prep Showcase where it played games in the Metroplex against some of the state’s stiffest competition.
Although the Lady Bronchos have also faced tough teams such as Wolfforth Frenship, San Angelo Central and Midland High since then, they know today’s test will be a little different.
“Having that experience kind of gives us an idea of where we need to be and what we need to do to prepare for as we go into tomorrow,” Kellar said.
Odessa High hasn’t changed much of what it’s doing in practice ahead of the game against the Lady Chargers. The Lady Bronchos are still watching film and cleaning up the little things that haven’t been where the team expects them to be.
“They’re good sized and physical and they have a quality forward and same with some of their midfielders,” Kellar said about the Lady Chargers. “They’re good at taking people one on one. It’s definitely something we’re working on.”
Throughout the season, Odessa High has employed a one-game-at-a-time mentality. That strategy and routine has worked consistently in 2018 and allowed the team to focus on one goal at a time.
It has also taken some of the nerves of playing in high-pressure games out of the Lady Bronchos’ heads, allowing them to focus completely on what’s right in front of them, not what could be coming down the road.
Odessa High doesn’t know at what point its season might end, but the team is working hard to make sure that for a second straight season, that doesn’t happen in Abilene.