The Odessa High girls soccer team enters unchartered territory today.
It’s the programs’ first true playoff home game as the Lady Bronchos face El Paso Coronado at 4 p.m. at Ratliff Stadium in a Class 6A bi-district matchup.
The Lady Bronchos are hosting after finishing as the No. 2 seed from District 2-6A, earning 21 points from 10 games. Take out both losses to Wolfforth Frenship, which didn’t drop a point in district play, and Odessa High only let three point’s slip away in the other eight games.
That consistency is what the Lady Bronchos are hoping to bring in an all too familiar venue.
“Throughout the previous years throughout the program, the girls have done a really good job of working their way, building the program, getting in the playoffs (and) performing in the playoffs,” Odessa High head coach Cecilia Kellar said. “And to get to bring that here and perform in front of your hometown and have that vibe of playing in your home stadium is a great honor. We’re really fortunate.”
Odessa High (16-7-0) will look to win a playoff game for the second straight season as it defeated El Paso Socorro in the bi-district round a year ago.
That game took place in Midland, giving the Lady Bronchos an easier day of travel. Today will be different however as Odessa High will play its most important game of the season on the same field where it had its senior night less than two weeks ago.
“It’s great. It gives us the advantage where we already know our field. It’s like another district game,” Odessa High senior Alondra Venegas said. “I hope that my team takes what we’ve learned from preseason, our district, going into playoffs and just take into it what we’ve learned and put it out there on the field.”
Although several Odessa High players have previous playoff experience, they aren’t trying to just relive last year’s triumph.
“Every year is different, every group is different,” Kellar said. “And although you get returners year-to-year, the whole mold of the team is just from year-to-year is completely different.
“They understand what’s on the line; they understand that they have to perform at a high level and consistently throughout the entire match.”
The Thunderbirds (18-4-0) are the No. 3 seed from District 1-6A and lost three of their games to the two higher seeds from its district.
Kellar said she didn’t know much about El Paso Coronado other than it’s a physical team with speed at forward and a strong midfield. That sounds a little familiar to Lady Bronchos’ fans.
When Odessa High takes the field today, it’ll be their first game in nine days, breaking from the pattern of Tuesday and Friday games the team has been used to for almost two months.
The last time the Lady Bronchos had a long layoff between games was the week break in the middle of District 2-6A play.
Coming out of that break, Odessa High lost 5-0 on the road to Wolfforth Frenship.
“That’s definitely something they have in the back of their mind,” Kellar said. “I think they’re determined not to let that happen again.”
And with its season at stake and on the same turf that it’s made so many memories on this season, Odessa High will hope to lift a playoff trophy for the first time at Ratliff Stadium.
“I’m super excited,” Odessa High sophomore Jamie Natividad said. “I feel like now I’m not as scared as I used to be … I’m more anxious than nervous.”