FORT WORTH — Battling for a ball in the air with less than 12 minutes to play in a scoreless game, Guyer senior Sophie Martin found herself on the ground after banging heads with a Wichita Falls player.
Three minutes later, Martin was the hero when she scored a game-winning goal to keep the defending Class 4A state champions’ season alive after a 1-hour, 27-minute lightning delay and a 1-0 win over Wichita Falls on Thursday at Rough Rider Stadium.
“I have a big ol’ bruise on my head,” Martin said. “I knew it wasn’t a concussion, just a big bruise. I knew Peyton [Bucklew] always plays those long balls, and I saw it going over [the defense]. I just waited to be onside, and then when I saw it go over, I ran onto it and shot it in the corner.”
With that, Guyer (17-2-3) advances to play the winner of tonight’s Burleson Centennial-Fort Worth Arlington Heights game in the regional quarterfinals next week for a berth in the regional tournament.
Although it took the Lady Wildcats 72 minutes to get on the scoreboard, they controlled the match from start to finish, outshooting the Lady Coyotes 9-1, including six shots on goal by Texas A&M pledge Brittany Crabtree, who entered the match tied for the team lead with 21 goals.
The teams were knotted at zero at halftime, but the Lady Wildcats had plenty of opportunities that weren’t capitalized on early in the match. Crabtree had four shots on goal over a 12-minute span but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The two best chances came in the seventh and 19th minutes.
“I was nervous 10 minutes into the game,” Guyer coach Kenny Blevins said. “I thought they had a really good game plan. They have some great athletes, and it looked like we were going to have an off shooting night, something that we have done before.”
As often as the Lady Coyotes’ net was peppered with shots early in the match, Wichita Falls (14-5-5) had perhaps the most dangerous chance in the closing minutes of the first half, but Guyer keeper Mikayla Renfroe was able to keep the game a scoreless tie.
Payton Kelley chased a loose ball in front of the Guyer net and met a charging Renfroe, who went to her knees to smother the ball just before Kelley’s foot met it for her only save of the night.
Blevins said that after watching Wichita Falls keeper Alex Cowsert stop shot after shot, he was relieved when Martin’s shot found the back of the net.
“I didn’t want to go to a shootout, especially after I saw how great their keeper was,” he said. “Not that ours isn’t good, but it looked like she wouldn’t have been an easy one to get the ball past.”
Martin, a reserve forward who enters at about the 20-minute mark of each half, ended up proving to be the difference, even though her consolation prize might be a headache.
“She’s been a great sub for us,” Blevins said. “She adds a spark to the game. She’s a finisher. She didn’t worry about exactly where the ball was going to go. She just put her head down and hit that thing as hard as she could.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.