|Lady Cats punch their ticket to the state playoffs with impressive win|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 21, 2005- TEXARKANA - Sophomore Gayle Grand-Lienard made sure the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats punched their ticket back to the Class 4A state playoffs with a 4-0 win over the Texas High Lady Tigers Saturday afternoon.
Grand-Lienard was involved in all four of the Lady Cats' goals, scoring a hat trick and assisting on Tess Bragg's goal in the second half as Sulphur Springs secured the No. 2 seed in District 13-4A.
"Gayle steps up in every game for us during the season," SSHS head coach J.J. Williams said. "Sometimes she doesn't score the goals, but she assists, and with her three goals and one assist on four points is huge for us."
SSHS (10-17 overall, 5-3-0-2, 17 points) won the tie-breaker for second place in the district over North Lamar due to the Lady Cats' regulation win earlier in the season. District champion Paris and North Lamar are the other teams representing 13-4A in the playoffs.
The bi-district round of the playoffs for the Lady Cats will begin this weekend, and Williams said a time, opponent and location should be finalized by today or tomorrow.
"I told the ladies that we wanted a district championship, but that is in the past now," Williams said. "We needed to play one more game to get where we needed to be and for the girls to come out and win 4-0 in their final game says a lot about this team."
With 18 minutes remaining in the first half, Texas High's Claire Patterson had a break-away chance, but sophomore goalie Kai'la Petty recovered the shot to keep the game tied.
With 9:21 remaining in the first half of play, Grand-Lienard scored her first goal on a cross past Texas High goalie Megan Brown for the 1-0 lead.
SSHS then capitalized on three opportunities in the second half - the first came on a header from Bragg on an assist by Grand-Lienard, the second came on a breakaway shot by Grand-Lienard, and then a slow roller into the goal by the sophomore forward for the final score.
Williams said the Lady Cats need to work on three areas during the practices before the first round of the playoffs and that the girls need to be ready for their practices this week.
"We have got to spread out more, do more passes, and defend the passes better because the Dallas schools are good at that and those are our three weaknesses right now. We are going to work on that a lot during practices, and we will be ready for the playoffs," the coach said.
"We are going to exhaust ourselves on the field from now on through the playoffs, and I am proud of all of the girls. I couldn't ask for anything else for them this season."