The Rudder girls soccer team scored five minutes into the second half and kept the pressure up the rest of the way to beat rival Bryan 2-1 on Tuesday night at a foggy Merrill Green Stadium.
The Lady Vikings (2-5) clicked early in the nondistrict contest, taking the lead a little over 10 minutes in, but the Lady Rangers (4-4-1) quickly answered and had the upper hand for much of the rest of the match.
“We worked the last couple days in practice on getting the ball all the way down the field and centering it,” Rudder coach Madison Wood said. “We were able to execute that really well three or four times throughout the game and definitely when it mattered. The kids came out ready to go. I know that first goal by Bryan really fired them up, and they were ready to counter.”
Bryan opened the scoring when Brandy Murillo took a pass from Sarah Gregory about 15 yards from the net and fired a shot past Rudder keeper Amanda Farris with 29:52 left in the first half.
About two minutes later, the Lady Rangers’ Destiny De Luna got a run at the Bryan net that drew out Lady Vikings keeper Melanie Munoz, who dove to stop De Luna’s initial shot. But the ball bounced free, and De Luna had an open net for the followup shot and equalizer.
Bryan had its chances to break the stalemate over the rest of the first half, sending a barrage of shots at Farris, though none found a way through.
The Lady Vikings had their best opportunity with seven minutes remaining when a high-arcing shot from midfield took a bounce just shy of the goal and over Farris’ outstretched hands. But the ball bounced a tad too high and off the crossbar.
Bryan got a followup opportunity, but Farris made a diving stop to get the ball away from the net and keep the game tied.
“We had some decent shots,” Bryan coach Chris Gibson said. “Credit to their keeper, Amanda Farris. She’s a great goalie. She kept them in the game, and their back line did a good job of cutting off and holding us down. I don’t think we played too bad — we just didn’t finish and didn’t connect very well.”
Momentum shifted early in the second half as Rudder turned up the pressure. It soon paid off when a drive up the middle by Katherine Wolfe again pulled Munoz out of the net. Munoz deflected the first shot, but the ball again bounced lose to the side and left a mostly empty net for Kaylee Anzualda, who slipped a shot past a lone Bryan defender to break the tie with 35:03 remaining.
“We’ve been harping on the whole season making sure that we’re following up,” Wood said. “We missed some opportunities [earlier this season] that we could have had off that same thing — off the goalie dropping it. We’ve been working a lot on making sure everybody is crashing the goal every time we shoot, and luckily it paid off for us today.”
Rudder kept the pressure up from there, limiting Bryan’s attacking opportunities. Bryan got one last chance for an equalizer with a long free kick by Emeyda Cruz as the clock ticked under a minute, but Farris grabbed it for her sixth save, and time ran out.
The Lady Rangers will continue nondistrict action Friday against Navasota at home, while the Lady Vikings are off before opening District 14-6A play against Tomball Memorial next Tuesday at Merrill Green Stadium.