Unable to find a rhythm on offense, the Rudder girls soccer team lost 1-0 to Harker Heights in the first day of the Brazos Valley Cup on Thursday at Rudder.
At the 25-minute mark in the first half, Harker Height’s Eryka Anderson drove down the left side of the field in pursuit of a goal. Rudder goalkeeper Amanda Farris came within inches of Anderson in an attempt to stop her, but Anderson countered by passing to Aricela Ruiz, who tipped the ball in for the only score of the game.
“I thought it was a good counter by them,” Rudder head coach Madison Wood said. “We had a couple of our girls pull in a little too far, and we gave them a one-on-one opportunity. I would expect us to finish on an opportunity like that, and good for them for doing it.”
Despite the first-half score from the Lady Knights (3-3-0), the Lady Rangers started the game strong defensively. Harker Heights didn’t get many chances to score with Rudder controlling most of the possession.
Before the Lady Knights’ goal, the Lady Rangers (2-3-1) generated multiple scoring chances. But with most opportunities ending with an overshot pass or Harker Heights’ goalkeeper clearing the ball, Rudder had a hard time getting all the pieces together.
Junior Destiny De Luna looked comfortable running Rudder’s offense, keeping the ball away from Harker Heights and forcing opportunities. Late in the first half, De Luna had a chance to tie the game after Harker Heights’ keeper Brooke Frierson moved up to defend, leaving the goal open for a shot. De Luna fired, but her shot hit the crossbar, and the Lady Knights maintained their 1-0 lead at halftime.
Harker Heights created more scoring opportunities while controlling the ball more often in the second half.
Rudder had a few chances to score, but it soon became a game of the Lady Knights’ offense vs. Farris. Rudder’s keeper blocked a shot by Anderson with 34 minutes left, and during the last 12 minutes, Farris kept the Lady Rangers in the game by blocking five shots.
Looking ahead, Wood said although she thinks the Lady Rangers are at a good spot this early in the season, there’s still room to improve before District 19-5A play begins Jan. 24.
“We’re going to need to control more in the midfield and connect some passes to create more opportunities,” said Wood, adding that she would’ve liked to see a little more intensity and possession in Thursday’s second half.
The Lady Rangers will host Pflugerville at 3 p.m. Friday as they continue play in the Brazos Valley Cup.
“[Thursday] is interesting because it’s the first time we’ve played on our field besides practice,” Wood said. “We still have a young team and we’re getting some jitters out. Pflugerville did really well last year, so I’m hoping if we come out with the soccer that we’ve been practicing for the last month and a half that we’ll compete. It would be great if we could take a win off of them. That would be a huge feather in our cap for early in the season.”