Lady Cats' season ends in 28th shootout shot
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

March 27, 2004 -- HENDERSON - Somebody had to score, and it was only a matter of time.

Henderson senior captain Judy Romero chipped a shot past Sulphur Springs goalkeeper Kai'la Petty in the 28th shot of a sudden-death shootout to lift the Lady Lions to a 4-3 win Tuesday night in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs.

HHS (16-9) will face Frisco, a 6-0 winner over Nacogdoches at a time and date to be determined.

SSHS had already reached the goal of winning its first district championship, but its sights on a first area title will have to wait for another year.

"Bless their hearts," SSHS head coach J.J. Williams said. "I feel for these girls right now, particularly our seniors. All I asked was for them to not give up once we got down in overtime, and Tess hit such a clutch shot. I'm so proud of these girls right now.

"We didn't even have a program five years ago, and Cathy Weaver started something here that can only get better. We have three four-year lettermen who were here from the start, and everyone played so well together."

The Lady Wildcats didn't go down without a fight, as junior captain Tess Bragg did her best at allowing the team to see another day, scoring two goals, but the luck bounced the way of the home team.

Ashley Petty nailed a left-footed shot in the corner of the net just 2:17 into the second half to give SSHS (13-9) a 2-1 lead. The Lady Lions tied the game for the second time, as Romero redirected a shot past Kai'la Petty with 4:00 left in the game to send it into overtime, which consisted of two 10-minute periods.

Mari Morales scored with 3:28 left in the first overtime to give HHS its first lead of the game at 3-2. The clock was winding down in the second overtime period, when Ashley Petty was tripped, giving the Lady Wildcats a direct kick. Bragg knocked a picturesque shot over goalkeeper Kim Cary to tie the game 3-3 and send it into a shootout.

The SSHS defense of seniors Danielle Smith, Caroline Capobianco, Amanda McDonald and Kaleigh Thomson kept the Lady Lions ball-control offense in check for most of the game. Junior Jennifer Moreland, sophomore Makenzie Kelty and freshman Robin Grafton all cleared the ball exceptionally well.

"It was an awesome game," Smith said. "We played our hearts out and wanted this really bad. We gave it 110 percent, but it's still tough to take right now."

There was a 14:13 stretch of the second half where the Lady Cats didn't get a shot off, but Kai'la Petty stopped 12 straight shots in that span. SSHS was the quicker team, perhaps because it had over two weeks off to prepare for the game, and it showed in the first half.

Freshman midfielder Gayle Grand-Lienard used her speed on many occasions down the right side, but the Henderson defense wouldn't allow her to score and didn't give Ashley Petty many scoring opportunities, although she did find a way to get the ball in the net.

"I don't think they keyed on Ashley necessarily," Williams said. "They did a good job of denying the ball in general."

Bragg had six cornerkicks on the night, and her shot with 12:12 left in the first half was corralled by Cary, who seemed to be over the goal line, but protests by Williams came to no avail.

No matter, as Bragg connected with 8:06 left in the half on a shot that deflected off Cary for a 1-0 lead.

"I really wanted to win this game for our seniors," Bragg said. "We knew we were up against a great team, but we came to play and couldn't have tried any harder than we did."

SSHS was five minutes away from going into the half with some momentum, but a shot from Henderson's Melissa Poole banged off the post, and Allison Legg put in the rebound to tie the game 1-1 with five minutes left in the half.

The Lady Lions outshot SSHS 34-13 in the game, but it wasn't enough to avoid a shootout.

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