The Lady Bronchos knew they’d be in for a great trial run ahead of the playoffs as they took on Midland High Tuesday night at Ratliff Stadium.
Both teams had already wrapped up a playoff berth and at least the No. 3 seed in District 2-6A with both team’s regular season finale serving as the de-facto second-place game.
In a contest that saw very few scoring chances on both sides, Odessa High made one or two more mistakes to let the game slip away from them.
The Lady Bulldogs defeated the Lady Bronchos 2-1 behind two goals that bookended Odessa High’s second-half strike.
“It came down to one or two plays and unfortunately we didn’t come out on top of those,” Odessa High head coach Cecilia Kellar said. “The girls’ mindset should be fine. We played well and it’s always an aggressive game with (Midland High).”
Odessa High didn’t start the game the way it wanted, letting Midland High build pressure behind its defense.
Four minutes into the game it paid off for the Lady Bulldogs. After an Odessa High central defender cleared the ball to the midfield, it was quickly swung back in by a Midland High player and right into the path of Lady Bulldogs’ strike Kylie VonHolle.
Neither Lady Bronchos’ starting goalkeeper Brittney Gonzales nor their defense closed on VonHolle quick enough as she found the space to easily tuck the ball into the side of the net for the game’s opening goal.
Odessa High (16-5-2 overall, 6-0-0-4 District 2-6A, 18 points) then locked Midland High down defensively for the next 65 minutes. Midland High’s defense was just as solid for the majority of the match — only allowing the Lady Bronchos chances at goal every so often.
As the game clock ticked below 30 minutes left in regulation, the Lady Bronchos finally started to find its rhythm offensively.
“We knew we needed to come out strong,” Odessa High senior Zaida Lopez said about the Lady Bronchos starting the second half. “We came out with the playoff mentality and we played our game well.”
Midland High (15-3-0, 7-0-0-3, 21 points) gave Odessa High the opening it had been looking for all game with just less than 20 minutes to go in the game.
Stephanie Renteria sent the ball flying into the Lady Bulldogs’ penalty box — forcing goalkeeper Allison Robinson to come out and clear it.
That kick landed right at the feet of Lady Bronchos’ junior Alondra Venegas who powered the ball into the open goal left by Robinson to tie the game.
Odessa High’s defense couldn’t hold up for the rest of regulation and force penalty kicks however. Midland High was able to ramp up its pressure for the first time since the opening moments of the game with eight minutes to go.
After a Lady Broncho committed a foul just outside the penalty box, Lady Bulldogs’ sophomore Raquel Houston headed the ensuing free kick into the net after it deflected off of an Odessa High player.
Odessa High couldn’t find the equalizer as Midland High took all three points and the district’s No. 2 seed.
“I think it worked as far as the play — getting that urgency and intensity out of the girls,” Kellar said. “It really was a positive thing for us and we created some good opportunities that we have to finish.
“That’s how it’s going to be. It’s big having that tight game because that how it is in playoffs.”
The Lady Bronchos will have more than a week off before their bi-district playoff game that will be played next Thursday through Saturday.
Odessa High will matchup against El Paso Socorro —which took second place in District 1-6A. Odessa High’s last playoff win was against Socorro in the 2014 bi-district round. The Lady Bronchos will be looking to renew those fortunes three years later.
“I think what we’ll take away from this game is that we need to capitalize on the opportunities that we do have,” Lopez said. “In playoffs we won’t have many opportunities.”