MEXIA — Katelyn Chrisman said the foundation of the Belton girls soccer program is hard work. The Lady Tigers certainly put in overtime this week in Mexia.
Three nights after going the distance and defeating Garland Sachse to advance deeper into the postseason than any Lady Tigers squad since 2014, Belton again was locked into a tight playoff contest Friday night — this time with Mansfield Lake Ridge across the way.
After the teams played to a 1-all tie through regulation and overtime, Lake Ridge converted all five of its penalty kicks to advance on PKs 5-4 and end Belton’s season in an intense, physical, edge-of-the-seat Class 6A Region II quarterfinal at Blackcat Stadium.
“I think really what we represent as a program is just that we’re going to work hard no matter what. We just worked. Even today, just putting bodies behind the ball and really giving it everything we’ve got,” said Chrisman, a senior goalkeeper who made 13 saves. “We did what we could. We played two amazing teams this week, and I’m just beyond grateful. We have a great coach, great teammates. We gave it all we’ve got.”
The Lady Eagles (16-4-2) advanced to face either Tomball Memorial or Klein Cain in the regional semifinals. Belton’s season concluded at 18-3-2, with a District 12-6A championship and many memories in tow.
“This is just a great group of kids. I think what stings the most is that it’s over,” said Belton head coach Oscar Bersoza, who watched seniors Chrisman, Kirsten Bush, Abby Cargile, Rachel Mahan, Rylyn Reyes, Evie Nix, Abby Ponder and Madison Farwell play their final game — one which had the fans’ attention all the way through.
Bush put the Lady Tigers ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute, settling a deflected ball that wasn’t cleared out of the box following Cargile’s throw in, pivoting and scoring with her left foot.
Belton’s 1-0 lead held to halftime, but Lake Ridge applied pressure immediately at the onset of the second half and took just 7 minutes after the break to pull level.
The Lady Eagles’ equalizer originated with Camryn Lancaster, who earned the referee’s decision to give a penalty kick after hitting the turf in the box. Kaylee Mosley converted the PK, choosing low and left past Chrisman to tie it in the 47th minute.
Lancaster factored in again in the 61st minute when she received her second yellow card of the game, resulting in a red and the Lady Eagles playing down a player the rest of the night.
Despite Lancaster’s absence, Lake Ridge remained diligent in applying pressure as regulation rolled along, finishing the second half with seven corner kicks and seven shots on goal. Belton didn’t have any of either.
Sitting back and defending most of the 20-minute overtime, Belton absorbed four shots on goal and three corners, and needed right back Madison Farewell to head the ball off the Lady Tigers goal line in the 89th minute and Chrisman’s save over the crossbar in the 94th to preserve the tie.
“First half, I thought we were able to stay in our system and play. We went up on them and I think it shook (Lake Ridge) a little bit and I think we had some belief. Second half, they flipped the script and we were pinned back,” Bersoza said. “They’ve got some players there, man. And they were able to pin us back and that’s why we went to just blocks to try and see it out and get into overtime, which is as good as I think we could’ve done. “
Lake Ridge nearly jumped in front in the first-half’s seventh minute until Farwell — feet planted near the far post — booted the ball off the line to keep it scoreless.
It took the Lady Tigers another 8 minutes or so to find better possession, but it was the Lady Eagles who continued to manufacture more of a threat in the attacking third as the first half reached its midway point.
Chrisman, however, aced that test, making two saves in a 1-minute span. She first vacated her position to challenge speedy and elusive Alicia Riggins as she charged free on a half-breakaway. Chrisman disrupted Riggins’ run then retreated back in front of her goal to save Riggins’ left-footed shot.
Not long after, Chrisman stoned Lancaster’s close-range shot inside the 6-yard box in the 19th minute.
It all led to Bush’s goal in the 24th and, really, was just the beginning of a classic.
“I think they just stayed calm. We were lucky that (Belton) was low-pressing us because we were playing a man down once we got the red card. So, really just tried to help them stay calm, play our game, play the ball to feet underneath and just keep ripping shots when we had the opportunity,” Lake Ridge coach Kim Wallace said.
“Luckily this morning we did our full PK competition and I kind of already knew who I was going to put in as far as my lineup and then I just watched them take care of business.”