Lady Cats having a ball as they make it to championship bracket play
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

January 24, 2004 -- The last two days have certainly produced their fair share of dramatics for the Sulphur Springs girls soccer team.

Head coach J.J. Williams challenged his team after it faced a 0-0 halftime tie with Palestine Friday afternoon, and the Lady Wildcats answered his call.

Junior Tess Bragg, a lefty by trade, decided her right foot needed some action and lofted a shot past the Lady Tiger goal keeper, while SSHS scored two insurance goals to take a 3-0 win at Gerald Prim Stadium in the second round of the Lady Cat Snowball Classic and even its record at 5-5.

Junior Lacey Lopez returned from injury and recorded the shutout in goal. The Lady Wildcats used the win, shutout and three-goal differential to get the maximum five points to match its total output heading into the day. It was enough to allow them to advance to this morning's championship bracket.

"Our girls came in with their backs against the wall, and I was wanting to put them in some pressure situations," Williams said. "I'm proud of the way the girls played and didn't let the opening loss get to them.

"It would be one thing if we've been overmatched, but there's not a single team in this event we can't beat. I couldn't have asked for anything more from the girls."

Bragg scored with 22:46 left in the game, as teammate Robin Grafton shielded the goalkeeper as the ball went in the net. Bragg said her shot was intended to be pass.

"I was trying to get the ball to either Robin or Gayle (Grand-Lienard)," Bragg said. "It was nice to even our record, and we want to win the championship and have as many victories as we can before district starts.

Bragg was used as a center-midfielder in the first half but became more of a factor when moved back to her customary left-midfield position.

Grand-Lienard scored an unassisted goal at the 14:51 mark, while Grafton scored with 10:02 left on a nifty pass from Bragg. Grafton had another goal waved off at the 2:07 mark for unknown reasons.

The team was pleased with the return of Lopez in goal, and she never seemed to miss a beat. Her absence was made easier with the solid play of freshman Kai'la Petty. The defense also did a good job of keeping the ball out of the zone.

"It was a really, really nice way to come back," Lopez said. "The defense pulled through for us today, and we eventually started scoring in the second half.

"Kai'la stepped up her play and was awesome. We couldn't afford to get down on ourselves after losing the first game and did a good job of playing positive."

Lopez was aided by the strong defensive play of seniors Yorri Franklin and Danielle Smith, junior Jennifer Moreland and sophomore Makenzie Kelty.

Senior defender Caroline Capobianco injured her right knee with 9:32 left in the first half but should be OK to play today. The teams fought to a scoreless tie the first 20 minutes, with Palestine outshooting the Lady Wildcats 4-2. SSHS outshot the Lady Tigers 9-6 for the game.

Sulphur Springs 4, Kaufman 2

Ashley Petty scored all four Lady Wildcat goals before receiving a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct and being forced to miss the Palestine game.

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