The Odessa High girls soccer team knew that when it faced San Angelo Central Friday night that it would be in for a tough test.
The Lady Bronchos and Lady Cats were longtime district rivals, giving their nondistrict matchup at Ratliff Stadium a sense of familiarity Odessa High hadn’t seen this season.
And with District 2-6A play beginning in less than three weeks and plenty of similar matches to go in the season, Odessa High learned the hard way about keeping a quality striker in check.
San Angelo Central downed Odessa High 2-0 with a pair of first-half goals from Lady Cats’ junior striker Addison Bonaventure.
“I think we made a few mistakes and minimizing the mistakes that lead to goal-scoring opportunities is really what we need to focus on,” Odessa High head coach Cecilia Kellar said.
“(San Angelo Central’s) got their routine down and they come to work and we know what to expect when you’re coming into these kinds of games and that’s why it’s fun game. It’s competitive, it’s aggressive and it’s good soccer … you don’t get that in a lot of preseason games.”
Bonaventure first scored six minutes into the game when a pass from the midfield met her in stride in the penalty box. She turned and lifted the ball over the left hand of Odessa High starting goalkeeper Catalina Ulate and into the back of the net.
Bonaventure scored again 14 minutes later when she broke free from the Lady Bronchos’ defense and slotted the ball into the left corner of the net.
“She was moving well across the field and she made herself a target in the middle and did a good job of it and we weren’t playing her tight enough,” Kellar said. “Once we tightened up and filled in that space, she wasn’t able to find it so much. I think at first we just played a little safe probably and it gave her too much space.”
Bonaventure will be far from the last great striker Odessa High sees this season and Kellar knows her team is better from the opportunity to play against the speed and elusiveness she showed Friday.
“That’s really what these games are for. I think that throughout the game we learned,” Kellar said. “For us to get that opportunity to learn now through these games, especially a game like tonight on some great strikers like (Bonaventure) is, gives us that ability to go back to practice and make sure that we’re fixing in the correct areas.”
Odessa High (5-4-0) had several scoring chances throughout the game and came close on a few occasions in the second half to getting on the board.
“They’re really a good quality competitive team and it really shows us where we’re at when we play them because they’re good competition and it brings out the best in us and even though we fell short, we had a lot of good things happen,” Odessa High senior Cameron Rodriguez said. “We had a lot of good moments and I think we started off a little slow and that’s when they caught us.”
Odessa High and San Angelo Central (5-2-0) last played in February 2016 in the middle of a Lady Cats run to district title.
San Angelo Central head coach Ben Henry said after the game that the competition the Lady Bronchos showed made his team better.
“That’s what I wanted out of this game and I knew I would get it and that’s why we set up this scrimmage,” Henry said. “It really makes me miss my old district quite a bit too.”