GEORGETOWN – Three extra-time goals were the difference, but Wylie East ended up on the losing end Friday morning.
Wylie East took its first lead in the first half of extra time when Amaya Dawkins’ corner kick deflected off of Ridge Point goalkeeper Molly Thompson for an own goal. The Panthers never relented and tied the game 50 seconds into the second extra time, then found a winner with just 2:36 remaining to win 4-3.
The Wylie East season finished 28-1 overall, with just its third trip to the state tournament weekend as its only defeat. Head coach Kody Christensen made it clear to the girls he didn’t want their heads held down.
“It’s been our Achilles heel all year, defending the back post,” Christensen said. “They got there at the end and it was the difference, but one game does not define this team. We played with heart all season and proved we’re one of the best teams in the state. A 28-win season is a great year and we just ran into a tough matchup with a great opponent.”
For the first time all season, Wylie East found itself down multiple goals in a game. The Panthers put the early pressure on the Lady Raiders and forced several turnovers, scoring for the first time 20:43 into the first half. A couple more Wylie East turnovers leading to breakaways forced the team to change its strategy late in the first half.
“We changed our formation up to try and play a little more through their defense, but we had to play a little more direct than we wanted to,” Christensen said. “I thought scoring to make it 2-1 put us in a good spot, which we did for a long stretch.”
Just 43 seconds after falling behind 2-0, Dawkins forced a turnover in the Ridge Point box and crossed the ball to Ryleigh Wood, who scored into an empty net. With momentum early in the second half, Wylie East found its equalizer off a set piece.
Geppert headed the ball home off of an Alysia Cano free-kick, evening the score with 32:45 remaining. Wylie East began to capitalize on Ridge Point’s aggressive style, as the Panthers fouled the Lady Raiders 19 times in the game.
“You never want to go down after winning 28 straight games, but that was the position we found ourselves in,” Christensen said. “I thought we played well in the middle portion of the game and could’ve given ourselves a few more chances. Unfortunately, we didn’t take them, and they found the winner.”
East took that 2-2 score into the extra time, where against the run of play, the Lady Raiders took their first lead. Dawkins’ ball gave them an edge, but Ridge Point continued to bring the pressure, outshooting Wylie East 17-3 in the game. The Panthers will play tomorrow afternoon for the state championship.
Wylie East graduates five seniors, including goalkeeper Breanna Wooten, defenders Alyssa Striker and Kaylee Haskins, and forwards Sierra Revely and Hailee Leveridge. Despite not getting the desired result, coach Christensen was proud of his team for battling back in a tough game and will remember the historical season Wylie East had.
“I’m really proud of their effort,” Christensen said. “We played well and were in the game late. The biggest thing for us is what did we learn and take from this moment? It was a special day and a special team.”
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