For 98 minutes, Hendrickson waited for an opportunity to strike in its Class 6A state soccer semifinal against a talented Keller squad that had dominated possession.
When that moment came Friday, Bryanna Hunter leaped up and made it count.
Hunter, a 6-foot junior defender, headed home Hendrickson’s only corner kick of the match with just two minutes to go in the second period of extra time. The goal triggered a wild celebration when the final whistle blew on Hendrickson’s 1-0 victory, and it sent the Hawks (18-4-4) into a state championship match — against Katy Tompkins at 4 p.m. Saturday — for the first time in school history.
A dazed Hunter, whose header on a corner kick was the winner against Garland Sachse in a regional semifinal last week, could barely walk after the grueling match, played in stifling humidity at Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex.
“I don’t even know what happened; I’m so tired I can’t speak,” Hunter said. “When we got a set piece, we had one chance. And we finished it.”
Hendrickson, which had just one other shot on goal, forced the corner on a rare foray down the wing. Senior captain Christina Arteaga placed the corner on the far post, and Hunter skied above the Keller defense to pound the ball into the upper corner at the near post.
The goal pushed back against the run of play, which included eight shots on goal — and seven corner kicks by Keller — and rewarded a Hendrickson defense that didn’t allow Hawks freshman goalkeeper Makenna Garcia to face many dangerous shots.
“We were back on our heels in that first half, but we disrupted what they were able to do in the second half,” Hendrickson coach Rennie Rebe said. “It became just a matter of holding our own and taking advantage of our chances.”
Make that chance. Keller (21-3-2) pressed the attack for much of the match, and Hendrickson did not string together more than two passes in Keller territory until the 38th minute as the Indians kept constant pressure on Garcia and Hawks defenders.
Garcia, showing the athleticism that earned her the starting keeper’s job in her first varsity season, leaped off her line numerous times to thwart a Keller threat.
The match picked up after the halftime break. Keller fired three shots on goal within the first five minutes of the second half, but Garcia made each save with ease.
Hendrickson finally unleashed a successful counter and drew a foul call — and a subsequent free kick that almost shocked Keller. Arteaga’s kick from 40 yards out dropped into the box, and Indians defender Kaylie Charland’s attempt to clear ricocheted off the crossbar.
While Keller continued to dominate possession, the Hawks began to find space down the flanks. Their best chance came in the 63rd minute, when Jayme Woodfill got loose on the left wing and beat keeper Cambree Towle, who had sprinted off of her line. Towle disrupted Woodfill’s run long enough for the Indians defense to clear the shot.
Keller’s best chance to break the scoreless deadlock before overtime came in the final minute of regulation, when Gabriella Coleman slipped past the Hendrickson defense and fired a cross right in front of goal but just beyond the reach of AK Ward.
The Indians had several other opportunities in extra time, but they couldn’t crack a Hendrickson backline anchored by Hunter, Dalton Fish, Kenzie Arrington and Megan McAller.