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SOCCER: Lady Stangs force Canyon to fight for each goal in playoff contest

MARBLE FALLS — Frustrated. Alarmed. Exhausted.

The New Braunfels Canyon girls soccer team felt all three emotions Tuesday night all because the Marble Falls Lady Mustangs simply wouldn’t go away.

Not even after the Cougarettes scored the opening goal by going one-on-one against the Marble Falls goalie.

Not even after Canyon took three ricochet kicks to finally score the second goal.

IN PHOTO: Junior center midfielder Alexis Russell (right) scored the Lady Mustangs’ only goal against New Braunfels Canyon. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

No. The Lady Mustangs (10-8-8, 7-4-3 in District 49-4A) kept fighting, kept clawing and kept getting up, even after being pushed, knocked and pulled down.

“Their coach told me we made them uncomfortable,” Marble Falls head coach Paulette Moczygemba said with a grin.

And though the Lady Mustangs lost, 4-1, for 73 minutes Canyon only had a 2-1 advantage.

“Their level of play was pleasing,” Moczygemba said. “They came right in and brought it to a team of seniors and select players. They gave them a game.”

Marble Falls began the contest in a 4-4-2 set, but Canyon forced the Lady Mustangs to play on the defensive throughout the first half.

Still, the Lady Mustangs had three shots on goal. One of them was the result of junior center midfielder Alexis Russell not quitting on the play.

When the Canyon goalie tried to get the ball, she and a teammate collided.

That allowed Russell to get the ball as it squirted out. But a Cougarette hit Russell to get the ball and clear it out.

Seconds later, it happened again, but this time Russell was elbowed in front of the official, who awarded a penalty kick.

Russell knocked it through to tie the contest, 1-1.

Toward the end of the first half, Marble Falls went back to its 5-4-1 set.

Because the center midfielder has to run so much, Moczygemba said the objective was to alternate Russell and freshman forward Savannah Henderson every 10 minutes.

With less than a minute left in the half, Russell dribbled around the defense and took one final shot at the goal from the left side. But it was carried too far to the left, with no chance of getting into the net.

Moczygemba said one of the obstacles was not having enough Lady Mustangs trailing to get an attempt off a ricochet.

“Part was exhaustion,” she said.

The coach called Canyon’s second goal “freakish,” adding she thought the defenders were on top of each other and not communicating.

Senior goalie Rosario Torres had several solid stops and was unafraid to leap, make a double catch or fall to the turf to get the ball.

“Rosario really brought it out tonight,” Moczygemba said. “I’m proud she ended it so well. When I saw her, I knew she was my girl for the goal.”

Following the contest, Moczygemba reminded her players of all they accomplished – ties with Pflugerville Hendrickson after being thoroughly beat a year earlier, a playoff berth and a postseason win — the program’s first in its history.

And, the coach added, the team loses three seniors, so the core will return.