MESQUITE – The Athens Lady Hornets and Hornets opened up the Class 4A, Region II soccer playoffs with a split Thursday at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
In the opening match of the doubleheader, the Lady Hornets were shut out by the Melissa Lady Cardinals in a 4-0 defeat.
In the nightcap, the Hornets advanced with a 3-1 victory over the Anna Coyotes in a physical contest.
Melissa 4, Athens 0
Athens trailed 1-0 at the intermission as Melissa's Maci Robertson was able to blast a shot past Athens goalie Josie Godwin with 17 minutes left for the 1-0 lead.
In the second half, the Lady Cardinals added three more goals with the first coming with 38:44 left in regulation.
Missy Hurst found a way to get a shot past Godwin to give them the 2-0 lead. Hurst then found teammate Kylie Cruz with 31:10 remaining for the 3-0 lead.
The final goal came with 21:36 remaining for the 4-0 victory.
Athens ends the year with a record of 7-9-6 overall, while Melissa improved to 20-2-2 overall.
Athens 3, Anna 1
After a scoreless first half in which the Hornets had five shots, head coach Brendan Rich made the necessary changes to give his team three goals in the second half.
With injuries and other things happening prior to the game, the Hornets went into the halftime break tied at 0-0.
“It was a different game because we were missing a couple of pieces coming in,” Rich said. “Players were required to do some thing that they probably were not used to and contributing in ways they were not used to. Everybody stepped up to the task that they were asked, and we saw a great team finish. In the second half, we came out and play our game whole heartedly from start to finish.”
The Hornets first goal came with 27 minutes remaining as Jesus Hernandez hit a solid corner kick, which Marcos Costilla recovered in a scramble for the 1-0 lead.
“The corner kick was symbolic of how we were playing,” Rich said. “It was a little rough starting off and the goal symbolized that. It gave us a chance and a spark to bring the other two goals on and create those opportunities.”
Following an own goal by Anna for the 2-0 lead with 14:37 remaining, Ty Arroyo blasted a shot past the Anna goalie for the 3-0 lead just 25 seconds later.
“It was us creating chaos on their side,” Rich said. “We came alive in the second half, and I think you felt the momentum change. I think it was symbolic of the mentality and the momentum change. After that, it kind of sat in that this was our game.”
Athens goalie Yahir Carrillo had a clean sheet going until the 2:40 mark of regulation when an Anna player got a shot past him in the upper left corner for the 3-1 deficit.
Rich said the goal was a perfect shot off a deflection that was hard to block.
Athens (15-4-2) will face the winner of the Dallas Pinkston-Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy contest in the Class 4A, Region II area round Monday or Tuesday at a site, place and time to be determined. Those two teams played Friday night.
“We need to work on things that people maybe haven't had to all year. We need to get the best out of everybody in different situations. We need put a couple of different puzzle pieces together and we will be missing one or two more people with the injury to Johnny Rodriguez.”