Temple was one win away from clinching a playoff spot last March when the University Interscholastic League initially paused all competitions at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which eventually wiped out what had been left of the 2020 winter and spring seasons.
Fast forward exactly one year since that fateful, shocking day when high school sports were put on hold. So much has changed. Yet, when the Tem-Cats took the pitch Friday night at Woodson Field for the District 12-6A finale, something still happened to be quite familiar.
Temple needed a positive result — at least a draw and the point that comes with it — to solidify its postseason berth. A win on senior night represented the icing on the cake, or in this instance, a higher finish.
The Tem-Cats ceased their chance to make up for lost time against Copperas Cove, registering a pair of second-half goals for a satisfying 2-1 triumph that indeed punched a coveted, long-awaited postseason ticket.
Temple (8-6-4, 7-4-3) entered one point out of third place and one point ahead of Harker Heights for fourth. Because of the victory plus undefeated league champion Belton’s win over Killeen on Friday, head coach Sylvester Jallah’s Tem-Cats will be the third seed from 12-6A when the playoffs kick off in two weeks.
“I’m happy for them. This is a step forward, and the next girls have to follow the same pattern because we are looking to continue the tradition,” Jallah said. “Last year, COVID shut us down. This year, we still had COVID but they got to finish their season and move on. So, I’m happy for them.”
Freshman Vivianna Renteria put Temple ahead 1-0 in the 51st minute when she worked through traffic inside the 6-yard box to sneak a shot past Cove goalkeeper Terra Polm, who had initially stopped Angelica De Luna’s shot. De Luna was credited with an assist.
Renteria then notched an assist in the 63rd minute after her shot off the right post bounced to the feet of Emily Diaz, who finished from close range to double the Tem-Cats’ advantage.
Hailey Williams’ goal for Cove (4-9-1 district) cut its deficit in half with 6 minutes to play, but the 2-1 score stood as the final, which was identical to the margin when the teams played Jan. 22.
With the Lady Bulldawgs utilizing a high back line and the Tem-Cats staying sturdy in the defensive midfield, the first half didn’t have much in it other than a pair of shots on goal from each team that didn’t really bother Temple goalkeeper Grace Mungia or Polm.
Sophia Castillo delivered the Tem-Cats’ first chance in the 11th minute with a pass from the right into the box where Yadira Garcia had a touch get too far in front of her, which allowed Polm to leave her line and corral the ball.
Two minutes after Cove’s Emily Poste tested Mungia with a shot from distance, Diaz tried a curling right-footed shot from about 25 yards out that Polm briefly bobbled before gathering.
Temple recorded eight shots on goal to Cove’s six. Mungia had four saves, and Polm had three.