In the midfield, on the back row or in the shadow of the goal. At any of these spots, Hendrickson’s Bryana Hunter makes a difference on a soccer field.
A 6-foot junior, Hunter delivered the decisive play Friday as Hendrickson defeated Garland Sachse 1-0 in a Class 6A, Region II girls semifinal at Reeves Athletic Complex. Hunter scored the lone goal of the contest midway through the second half, and her defensive play helped throttle a Sachse attack that had dominated opponents throughout a 25-match winning streak.
The Hawks (16-4-4) advanced to face The Woodlands at 11 a.m. Saturday in a regional final. The winner will qualify for the UIL state tournament, which will open Wednesday in Georgetown.
“She’s such a game-changer,” Hendrickson coach Rennie Rebe said of Hunter, who’s also a volleyball and basketball standout. “She did a phenomenal job on defense. And then for her to come around and score the goal is fantastic.”
Hendrickson’s score came on its sixth of seven corner kicks in the match. Sachse goalie Sam Upton had some adventures handling corners throughout the match, so Rebe told Christina Arteaga — who played brilliantly in midfield — to set up a shot instead of trying to place a perfect ball. Arteaga’s corner skipped off the hands of a leaping Upton, and Hunter tapped in the loose ball at the far post.
“I told (Arteaga) to just set it up because we had the size; we’ll get one,” Rebe said. “And I thought that if we got that one, we could ride with that because we were dominating possession.”
The Hawks finished with six shots on goal, while Sachse’s only one came from Niaj Johnson late in the match, and Hendrickson freshman goalie Makenna Garcia made the diving save look routine.
Sachse (25-2-0) had outscored its opponents 114-5 before Friday, beating three postseason opponents by a combined 7-0. The Mustangs’ only other loss came in their season opener against Round Rock, Hendrickson’s District 13-6A rival.
The Hawks defeated the Dragons 1-0 Tuesday in a regional quarterfinal.
After a few forays by Gracie Harr down the wing early in the match, Sachse couldn’t generate much offense against a Hendrickson defense that has 13 shutouts in its past 14 matches. Hunter proved to be the biggest reason. Late in the first half, Rebe moved Hunter from midfield to the back row. She promptly thwarted Harr’s attacks as the Mustangs’ offense bogged down.
“My job was to just get the ball out of the back,” Hunter said. “It got a little stressful, but the team worked so hard. We deserved this win.”
Vandegrift 3, McAllen 0: Vandegrift, a two-time state finalist in girls soccer, moved closer to another trip to the state tournament, blanking McAllen in a Class 6A regional semifinal in San Antonio.
The Vipers (18-1-4) will play Cibolo Steele for the 6A, Region IV title Saturday. Steele defeated Los Fresnos 4-2 Friday in a regional semifinal.
Vandegrift won the Class 4A girls state championship in 2014, blanking Wylie East 1-0 in the final. One year later, Wylie East topped the Vipers 1-0 in the Class 5A state title match.
Rouse 1, Nederland 0: Sophomore Megan Olds scored the only goal as Rouse advanced to the Class 5A, Region III final in Humble.
The Raiders (20-1-4) will face College Station on Saturday for a berth in the state tournament. College Station blanked Port Neches-Grove 2-0 in the other Class 5A girls regional semifinal at Turner Stadium in Humble.
Fellow sophomore Alivia Sparschu recorded the assist on Olds’ goal, which came with about 10 minutes to play in the second half.
Nederland (18-4-1) didn’t record a shot on goal in the second half.
Wimberley 9, Pleasanton 3: At the Class 4A, Region IV tournament in McAllen, Wimberley rolled into the final with a lopsided victory.
The Texans will play Boerne on Saturday in a regional final. Boerne blanked Rockport-Fulton 5-0 Friday.
Wimberley, which blew past Pleasanton 7-0 in a nondistrict match Feb. 4, jumped to a 9-1 halftime lead in the teams’ second meeting.
Brownsville Veterans Memorial 4, Austin High 0: The Maroons’ postseason run came to an end with a regional semifinal loss in Corpus Christi.
Veterans Memorial will face Brownsville Lopez on Saturday for the Class 5A, Region IV title. Lopez held off Alamo Heights to win 2-1 in the other 5A boys regional semifinal at Cabaniss Field.