After defeating Fort Worth North Side on Friday, March 24, in bi-district, the Aledo Ladycats ran into their toughest adversary to date on Tuesday, March 28 when they took the pitch in the area round against Midlothian’s Lady Panthers with their state championship aspirations.
The Lady Panthers (21-1-3) pounced on Aledo for six goals while shutting down the Ladycats offense, bringing Aledo’s 2023 campaign to a close in the second round of the playoffs in Justin.
Aledo (17-7-2) was the runner-up in District 5-5A with a 10-2 record. Midlothian, ranked eighth in the state, won District 8-5A with a 15-0-1 record.
In Friday’s matchup with North Side, the Ladycats dominated the action throughout. Emery Thompson got the rout underway as she buried a shot in the back of the net from 60 feet out with little more than 32 minutes left in the first half.
Harper Smith scored a pair of goals in the match to lead the Ladycats in scoring. Her first goal came at the 20:22 mark of the first half as she snuck a shot past the North Side goalkeeper from a dozen feet out, putting Aledo up by a 2-0 tally at the half.
Her second goal of the contest got the scoring rally underway in the second half for the Ladycats. Thompson drew the attention of the defense before making the pass over to Smith for the uncontested, close-range goal that put Aledo up by a 3-0 score with just less than 23 minutes left to play.
Then the scoring frenzy began.
Reagan Krajca put in a goal of her own from 20 feet out a few minutes later to give the Ladycats a 4-0 cushion with 17:34 left in the match. Little more than a minute later Hailey Vandiver buried a 50-footer to increase the lead to 5-0. With 13:11 left to play Emaree Gibson put an exclamation point on the Ladycats’ performance with a whopping 75-footer to cap off the offensive onslaught.
“I thought that we would have a little bit of success,” stated Ladycats head coach Bryan Johnson. “I felt like we made some adjustments at halftime and figured out a couple of things. It kind of bothered me, after we scored that third goal, they went down right off the kickoff and got a shot on goal. Then they got a corner and another shot on goal. I didn’t want them to have any shots, but they ended up with four shots. That was me being lax, pulling defenders off. I know I can’t do that.”
Johnson knew going into the meeting with Midlothian he would have to have his team prepared to play 80 minutes of mistake-free soccer.
“It’s an uphill battle,” Johnson said of the encounter with the Lady Panthers. “We’re going to have to play the best game we’ve played. We’re going to have to defend like crazy, score when the chances come. We can’t miss chances. It’s going to be a very competitive game. It always has been against Midlothian. They’re a good team. They’re solid all the way from keeper to forward.”
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