In first trip to state, Hendrickson reaches goal of 6A girls title

Rennie Rebe’s celebratory mood wasn’t at all dampened when her team dumped a bucket of ice water on her head Saturday at Birkelbach Field.

Freezing but still plenty jovial, Rebe, a longtime Austin-area girls soccer coach, had just witnessed the biggest victory of her career. And perhaps the most important sporting event in the history of Hendrickson High School.

Junior Kayla Geren and senior Kensley Martin scored goals as the Hawks defeated Katy Tompkins 2-0 in the Class 6A championship match, clinching only the second soccer title for an Austin-area school in a sport that has been sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League since the 1982-83 school year.

No one played better, though, than Hendrickson freshman goalie Makenna Garcia. She recorded two shutouts over two days to earn MVP honors after the title match.

Playing before a pro-Hendrickson crowd, the Hawks won the first UIL state championship for their school in any team sport.

How cool was the outcome?

“Oh, my,” Rebe said. “Fantastic. Phenomenal. Awesome. Special. It was more special than anything because we weren’t always the best team, but we can play with the best of them.”

Rebe said her team had a perfect blend of senior leadership mixed with precocious freshmen. Riding a hot goalie, the Hawks benefited from Garcia’s seven saves Saturday, many coming after she dove to make stops.

“To be part of history, this means the world to me,” Garcia said, flashing her MVP plaque.

As for Tompkins goalie Cailey Croson, she was busier than a trucker on I-35 at rush hour during both halves. Multiple scoring opportunities by the Hawks were either blocked by Croson or whistled by the sides of the net.

That all changed, though, when Hendrickson’s Geren unleashed a shot that Croson could not handle. The senior goalie had blocked the initial shot on goal, but Geren was in perfect position to slam home the rebound.

Earlier, Hendrickson’s Bryanna Hunter, Christina Arteaga, Martin and Geren had been denied on close-range efforts. Officially, Croson stopped six shots on goal in the first half.

If Tompkins had any thoughts about rallying for a victory, they were shot down when Martin powered a shot into the net with 25 minutes, 9 seconds to go in the match.

Garcia and Hendrickson’s stubborn defense did the rest.

“I knew we had the potential to do this,” said Martin, who was playing in her final high school game, “but as soon as this game started, I knew we were going to win this.”

Rebe’s team finished the season with a 19-4-4 record. In their last 19 matches, the Hawks were 17-0-2.

“When the tire hit the road, the kids rose to the occasion,” Rebe said.

This was a perfect ending for the team’s eight seniors — Martin, Arteaga, Maya Dossing, Juliana Rotan, Holly Buchanan, Jayme Woodfill, Riley Pfannenstiel and Makayla Rodriguez.

“I think the team has a chance to win it again next year,” Martin said.

Garcia and the Hawks’ leading scorer, Hunter, will be back. So will Rebe, who probably won’t forget her first trip to the state tournament. Before this season, she had suffered seven losses in regional finals.

“For the kids, this is a four-year term, but this has been 20 years for me,” she said.

After the Hawks accepted their championship trophy and posed for countless team pictures, the Hendrickson faithful stood and saluted their state title-winning coach by chanting in unison.

“Re-be! Re-be! Re-be! Re-be!”

“It wasn’t always great for us because she ran our butts off,” Martin said, “but I can see it’s all paid off.”

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